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Watchmen teamed with The Atlantic for a comic about the Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921

Photo: Mark Hill (HBO)

HBO’s Watchmen opens not with Rorschach or a giant squid or even its star, Regina King—it opens with the bombing of Black Wall Street in 1921, and a young boy who we’ll learn is integral to the modern-day events of the series. What happened in that summer in the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma—named by some as “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history”—was suppressed for years. “The Tulsa race riot of 1921 was rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private,” reads a 2011 New York Times piece. “Blacks and whites alike grew into middle age unaware of what had taken place.”

That’s since changed. There’s now scholars and activists devoted to the story of how the 35 square blocks that comprised Tulsa’s thriving Black business district was decimated by white rioters, leaving 300 black citizens dead and thousands more homeless. And, thanks to Watchmen, the tragedy’s impact has reached an even wider audience. In order to provide more information on the event—and the efforts to secure reparations for survivors—HBO’s teamed with The Atlantic for a gorgeously rendered interactive comic that imparts historical context provided by relevant scholars. See it here.

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Marvel artist Clayton Henry worked with colorist Marcelo Maiolo on the comic itself, while The Atlantic’s Natalie Chang penned the text. Dr. Scott Ellsworth, the author of Death In A Promised Land , the first comprehensive history of the Tulsa massacre, and Tulsa’s own Dr. Alicia Odewale also contributed their own insight.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.