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Greenwood “Bitter Root” comic series panel discussion to commemorate Tulsa Race Massacre centennial

By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter

OKLAHOMA CITY — To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, The Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) and the Greenwood Cultural Center are partnering to host a panel discussion focusing on the award-winning “Bitter Root” comic book series. The event is free and open to the public.

The event, with a limited in-person audience, will take place on Wednesday, June 2, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.  To reserve an in-person seat, call Mechelle Brown at 918-596-1026. The event will also be available online.

The panelists will include the writers, artist and editor of “Bitter Root,” published by Image Comics

The program will open with statements from Dr. Stevie Johnson, educator with the Bob Dylan Archive, and Mechelle Brown, program director for the Greenwood Cultural Center.

Created by David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, Sanford Greene and edited by John Jennings, “Bitter Root” exists in a fictional world that merges Afrofuturism, steampunk, historical narrative and horror.

The series takes place in New York in the 1920s, as the Harlem Renaissance is happening and the Sangerye family find themselves hunting monsters transformed by hate, fear and racism.

The comic book series has won numerous awards including the 2019 Ringo Award, Entertainment Weekly’s Best New Series of 2019 and the 2020 Eisner Award for Best New Series. The Eisner Award is one of the highest accolades in the comic book industry.

In 2019, Legendary Studios purchased the rights to a film adaptation of the comic book. “Black Panther” and “Creed” director Ryan Coogler is slated to direct the project.  

On May 11, Variety announced that Regina King has been tapped to direct the film adaptation of “Bitter Root..

The comic book creators, David F. Walker, Sanford Green and Chuck Brown, will executive produce the film adaptation with Drapetomedia’s Sean Owolo.

During the Tulsa Race Massacre (also known as the Tulsa Race Riot), which occurred over 18 hours from May 31 to June 1, 1921, a white mob attacked residents, homes and businesses in the predominantly Black Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The event remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history, and, for a period, remained one of the least-known, according to History.com.

In 2001, the official Race Riot Commission, formed by State Senator Kevin Matthews (D-Tulsa), was created to educate all United States citizens about Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District, the storied “Black Wall Street,” including the massacre and its impact on Oklahoma and the nation.

Funding for this “Bitter Root” program is provided in part by a grant from Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.

Oklahoma Humanities’ (OH) mission is to strengthen communities by helping Oklahomans learn about the human experience, understanding new perspectives, and participate knowledgeably in civic life through humanities disciplines such as history, literature, film studies, art criticism, and philosophy.

As the state partner for the National Endowment for the Humanities, OH provides a free educational magazine, Smithsonian Institution exhibits, reading and discussion groups, and other cultural opportunities for Oklahomans of all ages.

A division of the Oklahoma Historical Society, OKPOP is dedicated to telling the story of the creativity of Oklahoma’s people and their influence on popular culture around the world. Its staff is actively collecting artifacts, photographs, archival materials, film, video and audio recordings that represent Oklahoma’s creative history. 

To register to attend the discussion in-person or online, visit okpop.org/bitterroot.  

To learn more about the Tulsa Race Riot Centennial Commission, click here.

The Greenwood panel discussion will feature “Bitter Root” creators (L-R) David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, Sanford Greene and John Jennings.
The Bitter Root program will include speakers Dr. Stevie Johnson, educator with the Bob Dylan Archive; and Mechelle Brown, program director for the Greenwood Cultural Center.
To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) and the Greenwood Cultural Center are partnering to host a panel discussion focusing on the award-winning “Bitter Root” comic book series. Photo provided.