Watchmen, which depicted the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in its remixed universe that blended real-life events with alternative versions of history, was one of 10 scripted TV series to earn a Peabody Award for Entertainment in 2019. Creator of the HBO adaptation Damon Lindelof and star Regina King put together a joint acceptance video, addressing America’s forgotten history, after the ceremony was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This show not only evoked thought and conversation but exposed history that had been forgotten, all while we were able to entertain,” King says in a video that, according to Vulture, was recorded before the killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
“Tulsa became the foundation of a new interpretation of Watchmen, reframing the traditional superhero origin story, born not from the aftermath of an exploding fictional planet but from the ashes of a very real place in Oklahoma that was erased from history 100 years ago,” Lindelof says. “It is in the memory of the lost lives of Greenwood -- not victims, but mothers and sons and fathers and daughters and doctors and lawyers and journalists and veterans -- that we dedicate this award.”
Greenwood, also known as Black Wall Street, was the affluent, black district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the massacre took place, leaving over 26 black people dead and thousands more injured.
Lindelof, who admits to only learning about the event when preparing for Watchmen, closes their speech by thanking his creative partners, “none of whom look like me or think like me, all of whom agreed this was not my story to tell,” he says. “So they stepped forward and told it themselves, with candor, authenticity, and grace. I have never been more honored in my life to shut the hell up and listen.”
While the HBO series is one of the only modern depictions of this forgotten part of American history, several new projects -- including a scripted miniseries and two documentaries -- are planning to chronicle the events leading up to, during and after the Tulsa Race Massacre.