Get Lifted Film’s Black Wall Street TV show pilot is in development at WGN America. Gossip Girl and The Haves and the Have Nots star, Tika Sumpter, is on board as an executive producer. Deadline reports the deal came together quickly. If ordered to series, Black Wall Street could premiere in 2018. John Legend, Mike Jackson, and Ty Stiklorious run the Get Lifted Film Company.
“Black Wall Street” was the nickname for the Greenwood Avenue neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was home to many prosperous black-owned business, including theaters, hotels, grocery stores, nightclubs, restaurants, banks, and more. In 1921, it was the sight of the horrendous, deadly Tulsa race riot.
Here is more from Official Black Wall Street.
On May 30th, Dick Rowland, a 19-year-old shoe shiner at a Main Street parlor took the elevator at nearby building to use the restroom. At the time, the white elevator operator on duty was 17-year-old Sarah Page.
What happened while the two were in the elevator remains unclear, yet it resulted in Page accusing Rowland of sexual assault. Although she never pressed charges, the damage was done. The story made the front page of the Tulsa Tribune with the headline “Nab Negro for attacking girl in elevator”, while rumors began circulating that a white lynch mob was searching for Rowland.
The incident further divided the town with one side believing Rowland raped Page and the other holding on to the belief that he simply tripped as he got onto the elevator and grabbed onto Page’s arm as he tried to catch his balance. Hundreds began to gather outside of the county jail that held Rowland. First, a group of armed whites, followed by a group of armed black men fearful of Rowland’s safety and determined to protect him.
What ensued was one of the most devastating riots in American history. An event that can only be characterized as terrorism.
Before dawn, a mob of angry white men stormed into Greenwood armed with guns, some provided by local officers who also participated in the riot. Hundreds of businesses and homes were ransacked and set afire. Black men, some who served in World War I, rallied together and armed themselves, ready to fight for their families and community. Whites indiscriminately shot and killed men, women, and children on foot and by car. As the number of casualties on both sides escalated, airplanes used in World War I were dispatched, firing rifles at residents and dropping fire bombs on the black community.
Outnumbered and outgunned, the riot grew worse for black Tulsans. Countless families began to flee after being trapped between rampant flames and gunfire. By the end of the attack, close to 300 blacks were murdered, while many others were left injured, homeless and held in internment camps by local law enforcement. By 1942, remaining black Tulsans rebuilt Greenwood without any assistance from the state and saw a resurgence of over 240 businesses.
The story of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street remains one of the most inspirational and devastating parts of our history, yet it is still unknown by many.
What do you think? Who would you cast in the Black Wall Street TV series project?