About the Project

What a pitiful bunch we were, in our nightclothes, barefoot, electric lines falling down around us, smoldering relics of once beautiful homes, the sight and smell of death and destruction all around us. There were men, women, and children running like frightened animals fleeing a forest fire. We saw things that day that no human eye should ever see.”
– Kinney Booker, 1921 Tulsa riot survivor

tower depicting the race riot

Hate Crimes in the Heartland is a groundbreaking exploration of the media’s coverage of hate crimes spanning 90 years in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The film reveals the extremes of racial tension in America’s heartland, told through the eyes of survivors of the 1921 Race Riot and the 2012 “Good Friday Murders.”

Completing this project was a unique challenge that involved a delicate balance of research, fundraising, travel, and production. Due to the fact that the events of 1921 were wiped from local and national record, identifying and locating living survivors of the riots was a critical obstacle. Furthermore, covering the ongoing murder trial required thoughtful precision to provide accurate context to the story. Finally, the nature of the 24-hour news cycle creates an urgent need to keep the events in Tulsa fresh in the nation’s media. Education and outreach are critical to raise awareness of ongoing racial inequality and hate crime.

At a time when racial tensions in America have never been higher, the tragic events in Tulsa deserve in-depth historical analysis to explain the significance of each moment and clearly illustrate the transformation of racial unrest to violence, of denial to concealment, blocking the path toward resolution and healing. Hatecrimes in the Heartland scrutinizes American society’s racialized context for interpreting facts in the media – one which values white lives more than black lives.

Through the personal accounts of survivors, witnesses, journalists, and lawmakers, Hate Crimes in the Heartland enriches the public understanding of the underlying tension in America’s heartland, exposing injustices that occurred and giving a voice to those whose perspectives would otherwise remain unheard.

The mission of this project is to explore the foremost social justice issues through the media, with stories that inform and inspire audiences and promote social progress. Your support is greatly appreciated.