Los Angeles – OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced a new two-part special OWN Spotlight event, “The Legacy of Black Wall Street” premiering Tuesday, June 1, and Tuesday, June 8 on discovery+, the definitive non-fiction, real life subscription streaming service and will then broadcast in primetime the same evening on OWN at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.
“The Legacy of Black Wall Street” tracks the rise of Black Wall Street in Oklahoma’s Greenwood District up until the tragic 1921 Tulsa race massacre that destroyed the 36-block booming business epicenter. The commemorative documentary special shifts the narrative from the massacre itself to amplify the voices of those Black pioneers then who went West to build their American dream, weaving their stories with the inspiring modern-day Black pioneers now who continue the path to healing and rebuilding the rise of the Black community who presently occupy Greenwood.
“We’re proud to tell this powerful story and commemorate the triumphant survivors who worked to rebuild and reclaim Black Wall Street,” said Tina Perry, President, OWN. “This is a significant moment in our history that will not be forgotten. We will continue to amplify Black excellence and resilience on OWN as we make strides on the road to healing.”
Ashleigh Di Tonto, Senior Vice President of Development for Trailblazer Studios, and executive producer added: “It is an honor getting to spend time with these truly remarkable pioneers and their direct descendants. Deborah and I wanted to share the intimate and unknown origin stories of those pioneers that can only be told by those closest to them; an oral history that’s passed down generation to generation. Getting to be the stewards of their stories is a privilege that is not lost on us.”
History is told through the lives of five individuals who were there in the early 1900s: Loula Williams, Augusta Stradford, Dr. Andrew C Jackson, Drusilla Dunjee Houston and A.J. Smitherman. Interlocked with the words, stories and images of these early pioneers are the words and stories of the descendants and present-day activists of the Greenwood era: Venita Cooper, Jerica Wortham, Charity Marcus, Dr. Jabraan Pasha, and Raven Majia Williams, who each embody the entrepreneurial spirits of their ancestors.
Throughout the documentary various experts, financial professionals, and iconic historians and professors such as Dr. Angela Davis, Dr. Ellora Derenoncourt as well as Representative Regina Goodwin and J. Kavin Ross, both direct descendants of the Tulsa massacre, bring their stories to life in never-before-seen interviews.
“OWN Spotlight: The Legacy of Black Wall Street” is produced by Trailblazer Studios. Executive producers include Ashleigh Di Tonto and Jeff Lanter. Deborah Riley Draper serves as director and producer.
About “OWN Spotlight”
“OWN Spotlight” presentations tackle issues and concerns facing Black lives. The programs feature candid and in-depth conversations that create real dialogue to inspire systematic change. Previous programs include a conversation with singer/actress Andra Day; a special presentation on Ava DuVernay’s short film “August 28;” an inspirational special celebrating Black Fatherhood and the special bonds they have with their children “They Call Me Dad;” a two-night special “Where Do We Go From Here?” that simulcast across the Discovery family of networks featuring Oprah and Black thought leaders discussing the current state of racism in America; “Oprah and 100 Black Fathers” sharing the urgency of having “the talk” with their children and the dreams they have for the future of their families; “COVID-19: The Deadly Impact on Black America” that investigated the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Black communities; “Oprah At Home with Lupita Nyong’o and Cynthia Erivo,” which examined colorism in Hollywood; “Oprah and Alicia Keys – The Interview” discussing Alicia Keys’ new memoir “More Myself;” “When They See Us Now” featuring Oprah in conversation with award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay and the cast from the acclaimed series “When They See Us” along with real men are formerly known as the Central Park Five; “(In)Visible Portraits,” which was a powerful celebration of Black women sharing their stories of struggle, resilience and beyond; “Black Women OWN The Conversation – 2020 In Review” featured intimate conversations about important issues with honest opinions and surprising solutions that put people first; and the follow-up documentary from D. Channsin Berry “Dark Girls 2” exploring the prejudices darker-skinned women face around the world.
About Trailblazer Studios
Trailblazer Studios is an Emmy-winning entertainment, production, post, and sound studio. Based in Raleigh, N.C., Trailblazer’s nearly 20,000 sq. ft. facility boasts a soundstage, production offices, edit suites, picture finishing, sound mixing and other related services. Recently, the company announced a first-of-its-kind television endeavor with Reuters to adapt its highly acclaimed, award-winning investigative series The Body Trade and is currently producing the groundbreaking documentary Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer for NatGeo. Trailblazer, which delivered nearly 100 hours of original programming in 2020, is currently producing blue-chip, natural-history, and premium-documentary series for several networks, including National Geographic, OWN, and discovery+. Over the past 15 years, the company has developed a robust remote post and sound workflow and assists clients with delivering content to HBO, Netflix, PBS, Amazon and numerous film festivals, including Sundance, Full Frame, and Tribeca.