Goin' Back to T'Town
American Experience Season 5

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Episode Info

The title refers to the Tulsa, OK, site of one of the ugliest incidents of racism in the 20th century. Narrated by the award-winning actor Ossie Davis, this documentary was televised as an installment of the PBS series The American Experience. As the program shows, "Jim Crow" laws kept blacks segregated in the Greenwood Avenue section of Tulsa. After Sarah Page, a white elevator operator, accused a black man named Dick Rowland of grabbing her arm, Rowland was arrested and a white mob burned 35 blocks of the Greenwood district on June 1, 1921. The governor declared martial law and sent in the National Guard to restore order. The documentary shows that enterprising African-Americans rebuilt the "Negro Wall Street," but that the community succumbed to desegregation, age, and urban renewal in the 1960s. Highlights of this program include residents of Greenwood. Historical advisors on the documentary include Jimmie Lewis Franklin, history professor at Vanderbilt University, and John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor of History, Emeritus.