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Publisher's Summary

A searing new work of nonfiction from award-winning author Brandy Colbert about the history and legacy of one of the most deadly and destructive acts of racial violence in American history: the Tulsa Race Massacre.

YALSA Honor Award for Excellence in Nonfiction

In the early morning of June 1, 1921, a White mob marched across the train tracks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and into its predominantly Black Greenwood District - a thriving, affluent neighborhood known as America's Black Wall Street. They brought with them firearms, gasoline, and explosives.

In a few short hours, they'd razed 35 square blocks to the ground, leaving hundreds dead. The Tulsa Race Massacre is one of the most devastating acts of racial violence in US history. But how did it come to pass? What exactly happened? And why are the events unknown to so many of us today?

These are the questions that award-winning author Brandy Colbert seeks to answer in this unflinching nonfiction account of the Tulsa Race Massacre. In examining the tension that was brought to a boil by many factors - White resentment of Black economic and political advancement, the resurgence of white supremacist groups, the tone and perspective of the media, and more - a portrait is drawn of an event singular in its devastation, but not in its kind. It is part of a legacy of White violence that can be traced from our country's earliest days through Reconstruction, the civil rights movement in the mid-20th century, and the fight for justice and accountability Black Americans still face today.

The Tulsa Race Massacre has long failed to fit into the story Americans like to tell themselves about the history of their country. This book, ambitious and intimate in turn, explores the ways in which the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre is the story of America - and by showing us who we are, points to a way forward.

©2021 Brandy Colbert (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

Featured Article: Audiobooks and Podcasts About the Tulsa Race Massacre


The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 was one of the most despicable moments in US history, and it remained obscured for decades. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, learning the truth about what happened is more important than ever. The following audiobooks and podcasts aim to give listeners a fuller understanding of the Tulsa Race Massacre while honoring the victims whose stories deserve to be remembered.

What listeners say about Black Birds in the Sky

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Incredible story and sooo well written

I’m so thankful I found this book!! The closing is also a stand alone piece. Recommend to all to read / hear.

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Loved

Written well, narrated well and very educational for those who don't know or choose not to learn.

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l This was a history lesson that all should read

Yes, the history of America that I learned in school was devoid of fact! Tragic

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eye opening

this is essential information. I'm ashamed at being so uninformed. thank you to the author for this book.

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Not sure accurate

Story had good use of facts until the "afterward". The afterward was so political and nothing to do with the Tulsa race riots, I am not sure why it was included. The afterward made the question the entire book.

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Interesting account of a little known part of America’s history.

I consider myself fairly well read when it comes to history, however I did not become aware of the Tulsa race riots until a few years ago, so I was very interested when I found this book. I thought the author did a good job of building the background to the riots. She covered not only the post- Civil War struggles of African-Americans, but the singular role that America‘s policy toward Native Americans plays in the history of the Oklahoma territory as well. I was generally pleased with the book, but disappointed with the afterword section when she got away from a non-biased presentation of facts. She wraps up the book with what I feel is an over long section which was preachy and overly political. When I read history, I prefer the facts and information, as well as the applications. However, I felt this book went beyond an objective analysis of the events. I still enjoyed the book and give it a strong B or B plus.

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Great book until . . .

I loved the historical aspect that I had never known. So sad of the event. Sadly, the author picked and chose modern day political aspects to make one wonder if the same happened in the rest of the book. So disappointed in the concluding aspect of the book.

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Historical Document Expands Beyond Tulsa

This book reads more like a collection of history papers that give a wide view of racial injustice. It widens the lens far beyond Tulsa. The information is critically important but the narration was sometimes difficult to listen to someone read a string of articles one after another. If you are not aware of our true American history this is a good book to read.

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What a shame

When I realized I grew up in Oklahoma and was never taught about the Tulsa Race Riots and massacre I knew I had to find out the truth. The reporting in this book appears to be very well documented and truthful. However, I was saddened by the author’s poor judgment regarding the current political situation we find ourselves. If we ignore history we are bound to repeat it, but to use this documentary to disparage Trump was distasteful. It made me doubt the reason for this book.

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Book good, afterword not so much

The telling of the Tulsa race riot was interesting and sad. The afterword was little more than the author’s opinions regarding the 2020 election. Good job by the narrator.

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