‘The good, the bad, everything’: US President Joe Biden pays tribute to survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre in Oklahoma
Joe Biden became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Tulsa, Oklahoma site where hundreds of black Americans were slaughtered by a white mob in 1921, saying the legacy of racist violence and white supremacy resonates always.
“We should know the good, the bad, everything,” he said Tuesday in a speech to the few survivors of the Greenwood District attack in Tulsa and their descendants.
“That’s what great nations do.
“They come to terms with their dark sides.
“And we are a great nation.”
Biden said the deadly Jan.6 attack on the United States Capitol and efforts by a number of states to restrict the vote echoed the same issue.
“What happened in Greenwood was an act of hatred and domestic terrorism, with a course of action that exists today,” Biden said.
White residents of Tulsa shot dead as many as 300 blacks on May 31 and June 1, 1921, and torched and looted homes and businesses, devastating a thriving African-American community after a white woman accused a black man of assault, an allegation that has never been proven.
No one has been charged for the violence.
Biden said one of the attack survivors remembered it on Jan.6 when far-right supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress certified Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
The White House has announced a series of policy initiatives to tackle racial inequalities, including plans to invest tens of billions of dollars in communities that suffer from persistent poverty and efforts to tackle gender discrimination. housing.
Families of affected Oklahoma residents have asked for financial reparations, a move Biden only vowed to investigate further.
Biden said his administration would soon also unveil measures to tackle hate crimes and white supremacist violence which he said the intelligence community had concluded as “the deadliest threat to the homeland.”
He also entrusted Vice President Kamala Harris, the first black American and the first Asian American to hold the post, to lead his administration’s efforts to counter Republican efforts to curtail voting rights.
Several Republican-led states, arguing the need for stronger election security, have passed or proposed voting restrictions, which Biden and other Democrats say are aimed at making it harder for black voters to vote.
Biden oversaw a minute’s silence for the victims of Tulsa after meeting three people who lived in Greenwood during the massacre, Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Benningfield Randle.
Now aged 101 to 107, the survivors have sought “justice” in Congress this year and are party to legal action against state and local officials.
The visit came amid a racial calculation in the United States as the country’s white majority shrinks, threats rise from white supremacist groups, and the country reconsiders its treatment of African Americans after the murder of George Floyd , a black man, by a white last year. Minneapolis police officer, sparked nationwide protests.
Biden, who won the goodwill of black voters as Barack Obama’s vice president, has made tackling racial inequality a key platform for his 2020 campaign.
He met members of Floyd’s family last week on the anniversary of his death and is pushing for passage of a police reform bill that bears Floyd’s name.
His trip on Tuesday was in stark contrast to that of a year ago, when Trump, a Republican who criticized Black Lives Matter and other racial justice movements, called for a political rally in Tulsa on June 19, “June”. »Anniversary celebrating the end of the United States. slavery in 1865. The rally was postponed after criticism.