'Black Twitter: A People's History' is a visual time capsule that captures cultural phenomenon

ByNzinga Blake, Jason Honeycutt, Luke Richards OTRC logo
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
'Black Twitter: A People's History' captures cultural phenomenon
Twitter has officially become X.com. But the legacy of the social community known as Black Twitter will never be forgotten, thanks to a three-part documentary series now streaming on Hulu.

LOS ANGELES -- Twitter has officially become X.com. But the legacy of the social community known as Black Twitter will never be forgotten, thanks to the Onyx Collective's three-part documentary series "Black Twitter: A People's History," now streaming on Hulu. Director Prentice Penny, producer Jason Parham, and Onyx Collective executive Jihan Robinson discussed the genesis of the project with ABC's On the Red Carpet Storytellers Spotlight.

The docuseries was inspired by the feature story, "A People's History of Black Twitter," written by WIRED magazine senior writer Jason Parham in 2021.

"I initially wrote Black Twitter an oral history because I think we're in a very dangerous time," he said. "You know, histories are being erased, identities are being told that they don't matter. And so, I think for me to take ownership over this story and to say, 'This was our moment in history and this was ours and nobody can take it from us.,' that was really important."

"Black Twitter: A People's History" received a straight-to-series order from Onyx Collective, a content brand dedicated to supporting underrepresented creatives. Part of the appeal was the cultural phenomenon that Black Twitter became as it gained popularity around 2009.

"It is a group of Black people from around the country and around the world that found community on this platform and actually went on to drive culture," said Jihan Robinson, vice president of documentary films and series at Onyx Collective.

Robinson explained that they needed to approach making the documentary correctly to avoid backlash from Black Twitter. Finding the right visionary was key, and they found it in Prentice Penny, a member of Black Twitter and executive producer of the hit TV series, "Insecure."

"Prentice Penny was able to take something that was about this social media phenomenon and really highlight the breadth and beauty of the community that really showed the importance of Black language of community and about how, wherever we gather, we're going to make change," Robinson said. "And it's not about what platform it's happening in. It's about our collective community that has existed for generations."

For Penny, this was his first time shifting to the documentary space, a significant move due to his tenure in the scripted space and his connection to Black Twitter. While he enjoyed the humorous interactions on the platform, he also recognized its power to galvanize people for social change.

For Penny, Parham and Robinson, this documentary serves as a time capsule capturing an essential moment in history that could have been lost with the platform.

Thanks to their collaboration, future generations will have "Black Twitter: A People's History" to learn from.

"In this climate right now, when people want to change the narratives of our history or they want to get rid of books or control women's rights, I think that having something that is documenting and holding us accountable is just so important," said Penny.

"Black Twitter: A People's History" is streaming now on Hulu.

Disney is the parent company of Hulu, Onyx Collective and this station.