HBO Watchmen series gives professor a medium to talk about race

Posted at 11:32 AM, Nov 15, 2019
and last updated 2020-09-21 11:39:13-04

TULSA, Okla. — The HBO series Watchmen won big at the 2020 Emmy Awards, and is highlighting important Tulsa history to remember along the way.

READ MORE:2020 Emmy Awards winners' list

The HBO series Watchmen features the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.Something that many Tulsa native's like Mechelle Brown didn't know about for decades, simply because it was not talked about.

"We never learned about this in Tulsa," said Brown, "Never heard about this is school, and we had black history classes, we had black educators."

For some people, the violent event is a forbidden conversation.

READ MORE: 99 years later: The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Brown and her mother tried asking family members about the incident years ago, after hearing a whisper about a massacre, but the response they got was less than forthcoming.

"We don't talk about that around here and don't go asking anybody no questions, and that was the only reference I had as a young girl," said Brown.

Brown did her research at the Greenwood Cultural Center and learned about Black Wall Street and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. After this research, revealing the truth to other Tulsans became Brown's passion. Now, she is the Program Coordinator at the Greenwood Cultural Center.

"It's been less than 100 years, so we have to acknowledge this, or we will never be able to truly move forward," said Brown. "There are still people here in Tulsa, Oklahoma that comment they don't know anything about a massacre, they don't know anything about a black wall street."

Now, she said people will be more inclined to learn about Tulsa's past that was almost hidden away, thanks to the new Watchmen Series.

"Now it's being told in a comic book series, and that's a totally different format and its important because it reaches new audiences," said Brown.

Some of those new audiences will be the University of Tulsa English Professor Sean Latham.

He has been teaching The Watchmen Comic book as a literary piece in his classes for the past 20 years.

"Comics aren't just stories but rather an intersection of words in powerful and experimental ways," said Latham.

Professor Latham said this new series will provide a new way to talk about new topics in his classroom.

"We'll be able to talk about ideas and ideals of racial justice in America," said Latham.

Those conversations are what Brown and Latham both agree will push the community to a better future.

"Memory is an essential part of a community, we can't build strong futures without acknowledging and confronting the complications of our past," said Latham. "We need to share those stores, and there are not always going to be good stories, but they are stories that we need to share and acknowledge and then build on to create a more honest future for ourselves."

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