Combustible Celluloid
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With: DeNeen Brown
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Dawn Porter
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 90
Date: 06/18/2021

Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer (2021)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Unnatural History

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Like many Americans — including Tom Hanks, who wrote a moving op-ed in the New York Times — I was shocked to learn that, one hundred years ago on May 31 and June 1, 1921, a white mob descended upon the wealthiest Black community in the United States ("Black Wall Street") and launched a racially-motivated massacre. The death toll is still unknown, but estimates ranged from 26 to 300 Black people murdered. I decided to learn more, and I chose filmmaker Dawn Porter — who made two of last year's most affecting documentaries, John Lewis: Good Trouble and The Way I See It — as my source. Her National Geographic film Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer, like several others on the subject, is timed for the 100th anniversary of the massacre. It centers on Washington Post reporter DeNeen Brown and the search for mass grave(s) that might shine more light, as well as some closure, on the massacre. The film spends a good deal of time on the years leading up to 1921, and several more massacres, showing that this was no isolated incident. It also discusses just how such an important event in American history could be so thoroughly and shamefully hidden away. Rise Again is a very tough, soul-crushing watch, but it also proves just how utterly essential a knowledge of history actually is.

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