The Tulsa, Oklahoma race massacre took place 100 years ago. On May 31 and June 1, 1921, Black residents were attacked and killed and their businesses burned to the ground by mobs of White residents. President Joe Biden used stark language — on Tuesday, May 31, 2021 — as he joined survivors and their families as they mourned those who lost their lives during the worst acts of racial violence in United States history.
Biden spoke out about the horrific crimes that happened 100 years ago. The President outlined the new efforts his administration has been taking to combat the Nation’s racial inequality. He memorialized the hundreds of Black Americans who were viciously murdered by the White mobs. The mobs burned dozens of Tulsa’s city blocks to the ground. Biden’s administration is taking new efforts which touch on a range of issues. Issues like racial discrimination in housing, voting rights, and small business opportunities.
Biden described the horrifying scene that happened a century ago:
… 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.
It took “less than 24 hours” for 1,100 Black businesses and homes — in Tulsa — to be lost forever. Many of the insurance companies denied the victims claims of damage.
Ten-thousand people were left destitute and homeless, placed in interment camps.
Thirty-five blocks of Greenwood, Tulsa were devastated by the massacre. Biden recounted the horrific details saying it was “literal hell unleashed.” The President further said:
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.
He added how as soon as the horrendous massacre “happened there was a clear effort to erase it from our memory — our collective memories.” The horrifying racial attack in Tulsa was described by Biden as “an act of hate and domestic terrorism.” Something that is still happening today.
The President recalled 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol building during his speech in Tulsa. Biden cited “the most lethal threat to the homeland today” — White supremacy — as the main cause of most, if not all, racial crimes.
Biden also touched base on the most debated subject in America — whether or not race and slavery should be taught in schools. The President stated, “We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know. We should know the good, the bad, the everything.” He added that all “great nations” do this.
Biden stated that Vice President Kamala Harris will be heading the administration’s efforts on voting rights.
During his visit to Tulsa, Biden met with surviving members of the Black Wall Street community. He also toured the Greenwood Cultural Center.
Michael Harriot tweeted, “On the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, let’s acknowledge that what happened in Greenwood was not a spontaneous eruption of hatred. That’s the narrative that America likes to portray but what happened on May 31, 1921, is an example of systematic racism.”
Many people are hoping that Biden decides to give the Tulsa race massacre victims and their families reparations. What happened all those years ago — and those that continue today — was completely senseless and horrendous.
People need to learn from the actions taken 100 years ago in Tulsa — and those that happen today — and make a change for the better. Everyone bleeds when they are cut; there is no one person, race, or color better than another.
Opinion News by Sheena Robertson
CNN: Biden memorializes Tulsa victims on 100th anniversary: ‘This was not a riot. This was a massacre’; by Kate Sullivan and Maegan Vazquez
MSNBC: Tulsa Race Massacre survivors are fighting for reparations, 100 years later; by Keisha N. Blain
Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License