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National Geographic Releases June Magazine Issue, ‘Reckoning with The Past,’ Examining Race Relations in The United States

- Featuring Important Stories and Imagery on Race in America, the Issue Is Available Online Now at

- The Issue Features Work by Michele L. Norris, DeNeen L. Brown, Elizabeth Alexander and a Powerful Cover Rendering by Artist Kadir Nelson


Today, National Geographic announced the publication of its June issue, “Reckoning with the Past,” examining race in the United States. The issue centers on three introspective and historically important features, including the Tulsa Race Massacre; a meaningful essay discussing the real meaning of Black Freedom in America; and a global 10+ year survey, The Race Card Project, describing what race means in six words. Content for the issue, which is accompanied by powerful visuals, including photos and graphics, is available online in the Race in America hub (

One hundred years after its occurrence, National Geographic collaborated with Washington Post Reporter DeNeen L. Brown on Tulsa Race Massacre— an in-depth examination of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The massacre, which until recently has been largely unknown, claimed the lives of more than 300 Black people and left some 10,000 homeless, affecting Black families for generations. While many people will speak about the horrors of this moment in time, Brown provides untold accounts of how the massacre was politically ignored until G.T. Bynum, Tulsa’s current mayor, announced he would reopen the investigation; not one person was jailed for the murders of hundreds of Black people who lived in one of the most affluent Black neighborhoods in the country.

The cover of the issue is a stunning painting by award-winning author and artist Kadir Nelson, telling the story of the events of 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Nelson’s painting, “Tulsa,” paints a classic family portrait comprised of three generations of well-to-do African Americans set against a white background. Within the shadows of the vignette, Nelson juxtaposes the intimate setting with haunting images from the massacre that left Tulsa’s Greenwood District in ruins.

The June issue will be accompanied by a National Geographic Channel documentary, Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer, premiering Friday, June 18, at 9p.m. ET and available on Hulu the same day, as well as a National Geographic Society Virtual Field Trip, Revisiting History, available on June 9, 2021 at 1 p.m. ET.

Further expanding our understanding of mutual compassion on the topic of race, the issue also includes The Race Card Project, a feature by Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist and National Geographic Explorer, Michele L. Norris. For more than a decade, Norris has been working on “The Race Card Project,” a project that captures people’s thoughts about race in just six words. Already, more than 500,000 people — from every state and 96 countries — have submitted Race Cards. Norris is building on this work under a year-long fellowship from the National Geographic Society.

With the goal of cultivating conversations around these important topics, the June issue also includes a meaningful essay by Elizabeth Alexander, a poet, educator and president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Her essay Envisioning Black Freedom asks the fundamental question: What does it mean to be Black and free in a country that undermines Black freedom? Throughout the essay, Alexander reflects on the significance of monuments and memorials as sites of activation in our country’s past and present, particularly with regard to Black freedom, and asserts the centrality of the act of memorializing our country’s ability to move forward from its current moment of race and reckoning.

“National Geographic has been covering the human journey since our founding in 1888, and directly tackling stories about race in the last several years,” said Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief of National Geographic. “This has led to some of the most forthright and difficult conversations we have had among ourselves and with our readers. But I am hopeful that our coverage will help illuminate the lives of Black Americans and people of all backgrounds, providing insight into the experiences that have helped shape the current moment.”

“To better understand where we are as a country, it’s important to examine how we’ve arrived at this place,” said Debra Adams Simmons, executive editor for history and culture at National Geographic. “This body of work — from Elizabeth Alexander’s powerful essay about the importance of embracing our full history and telling the whole truth, to Michele L. Norris’s exploration of how people experience race, to DeNeen L. Brown’s coverage of the horrific racial violence African Americans have endured — provides context for the racial reckoning now underway.”

National Geographic’s June Issue is available in the Race in America hub at



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