HBO’s new blockbuster series is Watchmen, a sequel to the original comic book, and they’re doing something bold and educational: the opening sequence is a recreation of the Tulsa race riots, in which a white community rose up and murdered and burned an entire black community. Even today, the city of Tulsa is searching (reluctantly) for the mass graves that were dug in 1921. I’d read about this before, and it’s unbelievably horrific — it was such an awful act of blatant racism I had trouble believing it when I first heard about it. It happened, though.
One concern is placing it in a work of fiction, and specifically a show about alternate history. I hope no one comes away dismissing it as a comic book story, because you can find real-life, historical accounts of the event fairly easily.
What I didn’t know until this morning was the extent of the open race war that went on in this country after the Civil War. It’s shocking that this wasn’t taught in any school I attended! Check out this eye-opening thread on Twitter:
A lot of white people were shocked to learn about the bombing of Tulsa from HBO's "Watchmen" while most black people are familiar with the bombing of Black Wall Street.
Even historians mention these events as isolated incidents.
— michaelharriot (@michaelharriot) October 22, 2019
I had never heard of the Kirk-Holden War before. This was a real war in North Carolina, in which the Ku Klux Klan declared war against the state, the army was called in, and the KKK won, dictating terms to the government…terms that included allowing no Northern intervention in how they “regulated” elections, where “regulation” included murdering black elected officials. One outcome of that kind of action was that the victors celebrated by erecting Confederate monuments all over the place. Our country supported the oppression of a democratic majority! It still is.
I’ve only seen the one episode of the series so far, and to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it as a story…but as a slap-in-the-face wakeup call to deplorable events in American history, it’s a five-star triumph. It promises to develop further as a story about American race relations, and all I can say there is that it’s about time we actually had a media confrontation over it.