President Joe Biden visited Tulsa, Oklahoma Tuesday to observe the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The first sitting president to make the trip to Tulsa to mark the somber occasion, Biden said it was time to acknowledge the truth about what happened on May 31, 1921 (watch his full remarks above from NBC News).
President Joe Biden in Tulsa: "My fellow Americans, this was not a riot. This was a massacre… among the worst in our history, but not the only one, and for too long forgotten by our history. As soon as it happened, there was a clear effort to erase it from our memory." pic.twitter.com/4xpLplHL1b
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) June 1, 2021
A hundred years ago, a mob of white people descended on what was then a prosperous Black neighborhood known as Black Wall Street. The mob set fire to buildings and businesses, and went on a looting and killing rampage. During his speech, President Biden noted that there was no proper accounting of the dead and that local records indicated 36 people were killed. In actually, historians believe hundreds of black people were killed that day, and 35 city blocks were destroyed.
Yet for decades, the events of that day were not a part of the national conversation as a tragedy of that magnitude should be. President Biden noted that in his remarks.
Pres Biden in Tulsa: "We can't just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know."
He added, "We should know the good, the bad, everything. That's what great nation do. They come to terms with their dark sides. And we're a great nation."
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 1, 2021
“For much too long the history of what took place here was told in silence. Cloaked in darkness, but just because history is silent, it doesn’t mean that it did not take place. And while darkness can hide much, it erases nothing. It erases nothing. Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous they can’t be buried no matter how hard people try. And so it is here, only, only with truth, can come healing and justice and repair, only with truth, facing it, but that isn’t enough.”
Biden’s visit was not just historic, but for local Black families, a meaningful step in the right direction.
Here in Tulsa, I ran into the Edwards family, who are awaiting President Biden’s arrival. I asked what it means that the president is coming to mark the 100th anniversary of the race massacre and honor the remaining survivors. “It means everything,” they said. pic.twitter.com/iOVyiOaCbT
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) June 1, 2021
The president is using the occasion of the anniversary to roll out actions his administration is taking to try and address the massive racial wealth gap in the U.S. and minorities. Among the moves:
- Using federal purchasing power to grow federal contracting with small, disadvantaged businesses by 50%. The White House says that will translate to an additional $100 billion over five years.
- The $10 billion community revitalization fund in the American Jobs Plan will be aimed to benefit economically underserved and underdeveloped communities like Greenwood, where the Tulsa Race Massacre took place.
- The White House will address racial discrimination in the housing market, with a new interagency effort to address inequity in home appraisal and aggressively combating housing discrimination
On Monday, Biden declared May 31, 2021 “Day of Remembrance: 100 Years After The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.” He also called on Americans to recommit to combating and systemic racism in America.