The true story of how Black people armed themselves to protect their homeland of Boley, Oklahoma will soon become a television series.
Boley, in development at Universal Television, was written by Dianne Houston, who has written episodes for Empire and When We Rise. Producer Rudy Langlais has worked on films like The Hurricane and Sugar Hill, according to Deadline.
Already being hailed as “television’s first premium Black western,” Boley takes its inspiration from the true story of Boley, Okla., established in 1904 as one of the largest and most prosperous Black towns in the United States. It was in Boley in the 1930s when a group of Black residents took on notorious gangster Pretty Boy Floyd and his gang of outlaws to successfully defend their town.
Booker T. Washington once described Boley as “the finest Black town in the world.”
All of this was threatened on November 23, 1932, when three members of Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd’s gang attempted to rob the town’s Farmers and Merchants Bank, the first nationally chartered black-owned bank in Oklahoma. In the melee, the bank’s president and two of Pretty Boy Floyd’s gangsters were killed, one by a bank bookkeeper and the other by townspeople who took up arms and shot at the robbers when they tried to flee. All the money was recovered.
The legacy of the town of Boley and its inhabitants form the backdrop of this limited series, which has been a passion project for Langlais and Universal TV President Pearlena Igbokwe for two decades, according to Deadline.
“Boley was one of those mythic places, like Camelot, that I heard fleeting but exciting tales about,” Langlais told Deadline. “They described a place impossible to believe was real…in the middle of Oklahoma…mentioned Nikolai Tesla…and Pretty Boy Floyd…and a shoot-out during a bank robbery…all in the same breath. So when Pearlena called 20 years ago and asked if I was interested in telling this story, I was ready to jump on a train to find this mythic place. However long it took.”
“Rudy Langlais and I have been trying to tell this story for a long time,” Igbokwe added to the Deadline interview. “It is yet another piece of American history that has been overlooked. The showdown in Boley, Oklahoma is incredibly emotional and incredibly cinematic.”
We can’t wait!