President Joe Biden spoke about the ongoing racial discrimination in the U.S. during a visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921. Biden was in Tulsa to tour the Greenwood neighborhood where the massacre took place.
Before giving his address, President Joe Biden visited the Greenwood Cultural Center and spoke with three massacre survivors. Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis, and Lessie Benningfield Randle addressed a House Judiciary subcommittee in May seeking reparations for the survivors and their descendants.
President Biden recounted how a white mob murdered hundreds of Black Americans and burned their neighborhood to the ground during his address. A neighborhood that was once known as the “Black Wall Street.”
“One hundred years ago, at this hour, on this first day of June, smoke darkened the Tulsa sky, rising from 35 blocks of Greenwood that were left in ash and ember, raised in rubble,” remarked the President. The massacre left countless people dead and 1,100 Black homes and businesses lost.
“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. Our collective memories,” he said.
Noting that no arrests were made, and an official death count was never taken, President Joe Biden called the massacre an act of “hate and domestic terrorism” that still occurs today. He cited the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, and most recently, the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
He went on to say, “Terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today. Not ISIS, not al-Qaida, white supremacists.”
President Joe Biden also outlined his administration’s plans to shorten the wealth gap between white and Black Americans. His plans include a $10 billion investment in neighborhood infrastructure programs. It also has a $5 billion grant program to assist jurisdictions with eliminating barriers to affordable housing for low-income families.
He plans to extend federal contracts for small and minority-owned businesses to 15% totaling $100 billion over the next five years. Biden also announced that Vice President Kamala Harris would spearhead the administration’s effort to end voting law restrictions.
Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer and journalist based in Chicago. Find her on social media @beboldshineon.