The story of Black Wall Street is almost a myth at this point. That’s not because the idea of an economically flourishing black neighborhood in the 1920’s is hard to believe. It’s because it was both literally and figuratively wiped away from existence in less than two days. Fortunately, WGN America is partnering with John Legend and Get Lifted Film Co. – with Get Lifted alumna and Southside with You actress Tika Sumpter as Executive Producer – to bring the story to television, according to Deadline.
Black Wall Street refers to the all-black neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was the home of thousands of residents and successful businesses. Then, on one day in May 1929, it was the target of white attackers that left more than 30 blocks burned down to the ground and hundreds of people dead and an estimated 10,000 were left homeless, according to the Progressive. But historical accounts of this event haven’t been the easiest to find – for obvious reasons – so it’s become something of legend for those not willing to do lengthy research into the subject. Which is exactly why this series is set up to be another success.
Following the critical acclaim of the first season of Underground, which Legend and Get Lifted Film Co. produced, it’s already been proven that WGN America can bring in a steady audience once it gets a hold of good content. It’s also been proven that there’s an audience for stories about Black history and mystery.
Hopefully, the story goes back far enough to show how the neighborhood of Greenwood grew to such prominence and gives us a few seasons before meeting an inevitable end.
“We’re so excited to continue to grow our relationship with WGN America,” Get Lifted’s Mike Jackson told Deadline. “Our experience working with them on Underground has been fantastic. Additionally, we’re looking forward to working with our friend Tika Sumpter to help tell this incredible story that many people know nothing about.”
Sumpter is also tied to the production company for her role as First Lady Michelle Obama in Southside With You, a story about how she met Barack. The film is already receiving strong reviews before it’s wide release later this week.
It’s far too early to see what the new series will look like. But it’s not too early to imagine a time where we can watch Underground and gather a personal, dramatic interpretation of slavery then jump forward in time by 50 years the next day, or even the next hour, and see a successful black community in the 1920’s. WATTBA.