John Legend working to ‘resuscitate’ Black Wall Street series

John Legend is lobbying streaming service officials at Hulu to reconsider optioning his planned Black Wall Street drama series because the topic couldn’t be more timely.

The All of Me hitmaker, who has also found success as a film and TV producer, had been developing the project with Ride Along actress Tika Sumpter back in 2016, with the series focusing on the Tulsa, Oklahoma community of Greenwood, one of America’s most famous affluent black neighbourhoods in the early 20th century.

The area, nicknamed Black Wall Street, was destroyed by race riots in 1921, when more than 300 African-American locals were killed by racist white citizens. The massacre is still considered one of the most devastating in U.S. history.

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Hulu bosses previously passed on the idea, but following the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests and calls for Hollywood executives to shine a light on stories about black history and culture, Legend is hoping they will revisit the pitch – and give it the green light.

“We had originally planned to do it with Hulu and then it didn’t get picked up, and we literally just wrote an email to our execs (sic) at Hulu like, ‘Yo, you need to pick this up!'” the star shared on New York radio show The Breakfast Club.

“This is very relevant right now, and it needs to be told.”

Noting that the subject matter was recently referenced in the opening episode of the hit HBO show Watchmen, and is set to be explored in two separate upcoming documentaries – one by basketball ace LeBron James and another by journalist Dream Hampton, an executive producer behind the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries – Legend added, “It’s important that we do a scripted drama for it as well… It was written but didn’t get picked up, so we’re gonna try to resuscitate that.”

Asked why the show wasn’t given a pilot order at the time, Legend mused, “I don’t know if they got it. I don’t think they understood how important the story was to the black community and how much it’s been a part of our folklore that we talk about with each other, and how important it is for us…

“(Now) I think a lot more white people are aware of how significant that moment was to us, and so I think they’ll give it a second look.”

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