President Joe Biden is calling on all Americans to reflect on the 100th anniversary of the horrific Tulsa Race Massacre. Biden declared Monday a “Day of Remembrance” of the tragedy, in which hundreds of prosperous Black families living in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma were attacked and murdered by a riotous white mob of terrorists who burned the neighborhood to the ground.
“One hundred years ago, a violent white supremacist mob raided, firebombed, and destroyed approximately 35 square blocks of the thriving Black neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Families and children were murdered in cold blood. Homes, businesses, and churches were burned,” Biden’s proclamation stated. “In all, as many as 300 Black Americans were killed, and nearly 10,000 were left destitute and homeless.”
As part of the proclamation, Biden called on 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 Race Massacre, also known as the Greenwood Massacre, took place on what was known as Black Wall Street, which had grown into a thriving community where many Black families — many who had fled racial violence in the South during Post-Civil War reconstruction — came to live and were able to start businesses and find economic security.
This success made the area a target for white supremacists and the reemerging Ku Klux Klan. Over two days in 1921, a mob of rioters, armed with guns, clubs and bombs, tore through the neighborhood attacking innocent people, looting businesses and burning everything — helped by private aircrafts which were flown over the city to drop incendiary devices on homes and storefronts.
Over 10,000 people were left homeless, thousands were injured and the total number of deaths remains unconfirmed and reports vary, but estimates range from 30 to over 150.
“In the years that followed, the destruction caused by the mob was followed by laws and policies that made recovery nearly impossible. In the aftermath of the attack, local ordinances were passed requiring new construction standards that were prohibitively expensive, meaning many Black families could not rebuild,” Biden shared in the proclamation. “Later, Greenwood was redlined by mortgage companies and deemed ‘hazardous’ by the Federal Government so that Black homeowners could not access home loans or credit on equal terms.”
Biden stressed that the American government “must reckon with and acknowledge the role that it has played in stripping wealth and opportunity from Black communities,” and that his administration is committed to “addressing longstanding racial inequities.”
“A century later, the fear and pain from the devastation of Greenwood is still felt,” Biden’s proclamation continued. “I commit to the survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, including Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, the descendants of victims, and to this Nation that we will never forget. We honor the legacy of the Greenwood community, and of Black Wall Street, by reaffirming our commitment to advance racial justice through the whole of our government, and working to root out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, and our hearts.”
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