Donald Byrd’s fifth Ailey commission draws on the Company’s theatrical roots and legacy of addressing social injustice. The work’s title references a 1921 tragedy that happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s segregated Greenwood District. At the time, it was one of the country’s most affluent African American communities, known as “Black Wall Street.”
On May 30, 1921, an incident occurred in the elevator of a Greenwood office building; nobody truly knows what happened, but a young Black man was arrested for attempted assault on a White teenaged girl. The next day, a newspaper report about the arrest incited an armed White mob, and things quickly escalated.
Over the next day, the mob grew in size and burned much of the neighborhood to the ground, killing as many as 300 Black people, and leaving another 10,000 homeless. Afterwards, the Tulsa Race Massacre was quickly erased from the nation’s memory, but the story has resurfaced in recent years in anticipation of the event’s centennial in 2021.
Greenwood- By Donald Byrd performed By The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
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