A gripping exploration of the worst single incident of racial violence in American history, timed to coincide with its 100th anniversary.
On 31 May 1921, in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a mob of white men and women reduced a prosperous African American community, known as Black Wall Street, to rubble, leaving countless dead and unaccounted for, and thousands of homes and businesses destroyed.
But along with the bodies, they buried the secrets of the crime. Scott Ellsworth, a native of Tulsa, became determined to unearth the secrets of his home town. Now, nearly 40 years after his first major historical account of the massacre, Ellsworth returns to the city in search of answers. Along with a prominent African American forensic archaeologist whose family survived the riots, Ellsworth has been tasked with locating and exhuming the mass graves and identifying the victims for the first time. But the investigation is not simply to find graves or bodies – it is a reckoning with one of the darkest chapters of American history.
‘A brilliant update that recounts the events with the swiftness of an especially grim crime thriller. … An essential historical record surrounding heinous events that have yet to be answered with racial justice.’ Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
'Absolutely riveting ... With a stunning combination of objectivity and empathy, it demonstrates how even in polarized times we can come together in pursuit of truth. ... Anyone interested in America’s future should read it as a template for the reconciliation that lies ahead.' Tim Blake Nelson
‘The persistence, empathy and painstaking research of The Ground Breaking move us much closer to the justice that the victims of Greenwood, and the people of America, deserve. Heartbreaking and inspiring.’ Beto O'Rourke