Ronda Racha Penrice
10 min readJun 19, 2021
Smoke from Burning Buildings During the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 (Library of Congress/Public Domain)

What Black Women Filmmakers Dawn Porter, Deborah Riley Draper, and Salima Koroma Are Teaching Us About Tulsa and the “Future of Black Freedom” This Juneteenth and Beyond

By Ronda Racha Penrice

Because the official centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre happened over Memorial Day weekend, culminating in the first-ever appearance of a sitting U.S. President acknowledging the tragedy, many falsely assume that chapter of American history is over. That’s why Dawn Porter’s Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer, which premiered June 18 on National Geographic and Hulu, just in time for Juneteenth, is important.

What happened in Tulsa is so much more than one horrific tragedy in a Black community in Oklahoma. That’s one of the key points Porter makes in Rise Again. “There is this mythology that the racism that we see today is somehow different from the past,” she shared during a virtual conversation with the African American Film Critics Association. By highlighting the many other race riots/massacres of the Red Summer of 1919, as NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson termed it, preceding the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921, Porter, with Rise Again, firmly debunks the false narrative that anti-Blackness was an aberration in Tulsa. Instead, it was quite the fixture in the nation.

Sadly, on May 31 and June 1, 1921, it was Tulsa’s turn to witness the ugliness. As one would expect, the community dubbed “Negro…

Ronda Racha Penrice

ATL-based Ronda Racha Penrice is a writer/cultural critic specializing in film/TV, lifestyle, and more. She is the author of Black American History For Dummies.