“Until relatively recently, the entertainment industry, which helps shape what is history and what is forgotten, did the same. That includes projects of mine,” he added.
And in a call to his colleagues, he said that “historically based fiction entertainment must portray the burden of racism in our nation for the sake of the art form’s claims to verisimilitude and authenticity.”
Hanks has starred in or produced a number of historical films and TV series, including “Band of Brothers,” “The Pacific” and “John Adams,” and has also had roles in documentaries about US history.
Hanks noted that the industry has begun telling a greater variety of stories, citing the TV series “Watchmen” and “Lovecraft Country” for depicting the Tulsa massacre.
A USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study last year revealed that 32% of top-grossing films in 2019 featured an underrepresented actor in the lead or co-starring role — a significant rise compared to the 13% figure recorded in 2007, the study’s inaugural year.
The Tulsa massacre, which took place over two days in 1921, saw a White mob kill 300 Black people and destroy a once-booming neighborhood in Oklahoma, in one of the worst acts of racial violence in US history.
During a speech, US President Joe Biden also highlighted the event’s erasure from the American historical discourse. “This was not a riot. This was a massacre — among the worst in our history, but not the only one,” he said. “And for too long, forgotten by our history. As soon as it happened there was a clear effort to erase it from our memory — our collective memories.”