Covering a century-old race riot in Tulsa

In September, I traveled to Tulsa, Okla., to write about that city’s long struggle with race relations. In 1921, a white mob descended upon a prosperous, all-black part of town nicknamed Black Wall Street. It was burned to the ground. You can read the full story by clicking here.

Reporting this was a little complicated in a couple ways. For starters, I’m white. That instantly filters my lens, just as it does for anyone of any race. I’m also an outsider – I have no familiarity with Tulsa, what it’s like to grow up there, and what the politics are like. In my field we call this helicopter journalism, where a national reporter drops into a place, interviews a bunch of people, writes a “definitive” piece on whatever controversial topic is bringing the place to national attention, then leaves never to return again.

As much as that pretty much exactly describes what my task was, I really wanted not to be that journalist. I’m grateful for the honesty and candor my interviewees gave me. I hope I did this story justice.

Our photographer, David Kidd, joined me for this trip. All the photos in the gallery are thanks to him! And also thanks to David’s extensive knowledge of random things, we took a mid-afternoon break to drive out to a spot on old Route 66 to tour the famous Blue Whale of Catoosa — a giant blue whale and swimming pond that a former zookeeper built decades ago just for the fun of it. (The pond is definitely not open for swimming anymore.) Enjoy the photos!