President Joe Biden is gearing up for his trip to Oklahoma to memorialize the 100 th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, one of the worst acts of racial violence in America to date. On his trip, Biden is expected to meet with survivors of the 1921 attack, as well as deliver a speech encompassing revised policies to fill the racial wealth gap and reinvest funds in communities.
According to administration officials, Biden is expected to declare the federal government’s decision to increase contracting with “small, disadvantaged businesses” by 50%. To counter the stark racial discrimination in the housing sector, Biden is elated to announce a combined effort on part of inter agencies to address discrepancies in housing appraisals.
On Monday, Biden issued a presidential declaration, calling the Tulsa Massacre “A Day of Remembrance: 100 Years After the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre” and urged the Americans to “reflect on the deep roots of racial terror in our nation and recommit to the work of rooting out systemic racism across our country.”’
The Tulsa Massacre occurred on the evening of 31 May 1921 and went on to continue the following day. An army of armed white men had stormed into the all-Black Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa, demolishing 35 blocks of a community popularly known as the “Black Wall Street.”
Even though the total deaths were recorded to be 36, a 2001 commission report revealed the fatalities were close to 300. More than 10,000 residents had been displaced or put into camps after the deadly massacre. To date, no individual was charged with the crime and the community has been shattered since then.
In May, three survivors of the Tulsa Massacre made appeals to the authorities for compensation. The survivors, along with their families filed a lawsuit against Tulsa and others last year, asking for reparation for what they termed as “public nuisance”- imposed on them and their families even years after the tragedy.
Viola Fletcher, 107, retells being part of the attack when she was only 7 years old. Having lived through the massacre, Fletcher complains of the consistent attacks against Black people and the deadly violence inflicted on Black communities each day. “Our country may forget this history, but I cannot. I will not, and other survivors do not. And our descendants do not,” concluded Fletcher.
However, it is unclear whether Biden will take the request of the reparations forward. In the presidential declaration on Monday, Biden cited Fletcher’s testimony, took the name of the three survivors- Fletchers, Hughes Van Ellis, and Lessie Benning field Randle and told their descendants the country “will never forget” either.
Biden, who has time again acknowledged the massive support from Black voters during his presidential campaign has also taken heavy criticism on the racial discrepancies amongst the people of the nation. Addressing racial inequalities was a significant part of his presidential agenda, going so far as to call it one of the four crises faced by the country.
However, a year after George Floyd’s brutal death, Biden seems to have made little to no progress at all. His decision to visit Tulsa came on the same day when Floyd’s family visited the White House on his first death anniversary, expecting to see the policing reform being etched in law.
At present, the tension in Tulsa seems to be mounting. The weekend witnessed a horde of protestors demanding officials to give them their due reparations that amount to nearly $1.8 million in property loss claims. Furthermore, on Tuesday, the city is expected to uncover a mass grave in the Oaklawn Cemetery that experts believe could bear a connection to the Tulsa Massacre.