Let’s face it. Black Lives have NEVER mattered in this country. In 1919, folks were calling for the end of racial prejudice and here we are in 2021 with little to no forward movement. Nealy 100 years later, after a year of protests, inequality, marches and quarantine, receiving the news of our Senate voting unanimously to declare June 19th aka Juneteenth a National Holiday was great news. What isn’t joyous is the manner in how we got there and the discussion aka re-awakening of Black Wall Street in Tulsa. Certain sectors of Tulsa have consciously kept the names, graves and organized massacre confined to a hushed whisper followed by vailed threats against those attempting to speak out. Instead of shouting “Make America Great Again,” let’s concentrate on making America what she should be – a country with liberty and justice for all and not just those of a particular hue.
Directed by Dawn Porter and moderated by Award-winning Washington Post journalist and Oklahoma native DeNeen Brown, the events of Tulsa is at the heart of Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer. This riveting, gut wrenching film digs into one of the worst episodes of racial violence in America’s history. Brown reveals insights into racial conflict erupting in the early 20th century between 1917 and 1923, when Jim Crow laws were at their highest. A time when the Klu Klux Klan was surging across the nation, scores of Black homes and businesses were destroyed and hundreds of Black people lynched and massacred with no remorse.
Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer does a specific deep dive, not only into Tulsa, but into East St. Louis, Omaha, Washington D.C. and Elaine, Arkansas while glaringly spotlghting how rights of Black men have been repeatedly challenged from one decade and generation to the next. It’s pointed out how loyal Blacks have been to this country and our flag. But, when our country fails to protect us, at some point, we need to protect ourselves.
When details are revealed about William Canfield Marshall’s (Thurgood Marshall’s Dad) role and how he assisted in the battle that was raged and won during the Washington D.C. riots, Black farmers demanding better crop prices, Ida B. Wells’ journalistic integrity and not being intimidated by white mobs or how the “Arkansas 12′ would have a huge hand in a Supreme Court law setting the precedence for having trials and not being convicted by word of mouth.
However, word of mouth is exactly what insighted that fateful day in Tulsa that not only destroyed thriving Black businesses, burnt their homes down to the ground and murdered masses who bodies had never been accounted for…until now. 99 years later, government officials approved a test excavation. An incident that literally popped off when a young Black man’s accidental touch of a white woman in an elevator escalated a massacre of epic proportions.
The truth of the matter is Black people are literally reliving a ‘red summer’ right now. White women complaining about Black people engaging in legal activity has gone viral. A white woman sleeping in a dorm lounge where black men are present, Black people barbecuing and even a Black man birdwatching is Central Park has repeatedly resulted in false accusationby white women (aka Karen’s) and calling the police. It’s almost as if the white population (some…definitely NOT all) function as deputies for law enforcement. You can be questioned at any time. Who are you ? Why are here? What is your name? With each accusation a massacre of the human spirit is unapologetically taking place.
Porter excels with historical context ranging from the Harlem Hellfighters to the damning effects from D.W. Griffiths ‘Birth of A Nation’ to breaking down the racial mob mentality in America, as well as the coining of ‘red summer’ by James Weldon Johnson describing the blood running through the streets of 26 cities who endured massacres and race riots.
Regardles of race or what side of the fence you sit on the subject of racism, this documentary is triggering. Triggering in the sense that it is smacking you in the face with history no holds barred. What do we do with this information? We utilize it as a wake up call to to be better and do better…period. Like the saying goes, if you keep doing things the same way, the results will continue to be the same So, let’s collectively make an effort for the generations after us with hope they’ll be able to thrive in a world devoid of hatred, jealousy and division.
Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer tells the tale of a country shook out of fear through the mouths of historians and survivors, who at the end of the day want justice for – JUST US.