John Legend and his Get Lifted Film Co. are teaming up with actress Tika Sumpter to create a series for WGN about Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street.” Get Lifted Film Co. is responsible for such recent works as Underground, WGN’s most-watched series, and Southside With You, a movie about the Obamas’ first date (in which Ms. Sumpter plays Michelle).
The series, reportedly titled Black Wall Street, will document Tulsa’s Greenwood District and the Tulsa Race Riots. In the 1910s and 1920s, Tulsa’s Greenwood District was home to a number of thriving, affluent black families and businesses — it was for this reason that the area was known as the “Black Wall Street.”
However, the community was ravaged through two days of rioting and racially motivated attacks which were prompted by a black youth’s interaction with a white woman in an elevator. Rumors circulated in white newspapers that he had assaulted her, which lead to violent encounters between blacks and whites.
More than 800 people were hospitalized and roughly 6,000 were incarcerated. Reports of the dead varied wildly from 39 to nearly 300. Greenwood itself was devastated — burned to the ground by white perpetrators. Most of its residents were left homeless and broke.
Though many consider the riots to be one of the most tragic events in American history, they are not often the subject of books or television shows. Mike Jackson, a representative of Get Lifted, told Deadline that “our experience working with [WGN] 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.”
Though Black Wall Street is in the very earliest stages of production, it is predicted to debut in 2018 if successful.