Biden gives gut-wrenching speech on 100-year anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre
Tulsa, Oklahoma – President Joe Biden on Tuesday gave an emotional, graphic speech on the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and outlined his plans to address racial injustice in America.
"The events we speak of today took place 100 years ago, and yet, I'm the first president in 100 years ever to come to Tulsa," Biden said at the start of his speech.
"Just because history is silent, it doesn't mean it did not take place, and while darkness can hide much, it erases nothing," he added, saying there can be no justice until America comes to terms with its past.
Biden then provided a graphic description of the events, which took place in the Greenwood neighborhood on May 31 and June 1, 1921. "Literal hell was unleashed," he said, detailing the violent acts of the white mob that murdered hundreds of Black Tulsans and left thousands homeless.
"My fellow Americans, this was not a riot. This was a massacre," he concluded after a moment of silence for the victims.
But the injustices didn't end there. Years of racist laws and practices prevented Black Tulsans from accumulating "generational wealth" and left them with a "loss of property that still reverberates today," the president said, calling for direct action to right these wrongs.
As in his Monday proclamation, Biden did not mention a reparations program as a means of creating a culture of remembrance and addressing the racial wealth gap. Instead, he focused on proposals to end racial discrimination in housing, extend federal contracts for minority-owned small businesses, and provide schooling to all American children starting at age 3.
In light of recent Republican efforts to limit ballot access, Biden named voting rights one of his top legislative priorities, announcing that Vice President Kamala Harris would lead efforts to secure voter protections.
Biden ended the speech by thanking Lessie Benningfield Randle (106), Viola Fletcher (107), and Hughes Van Ellis (100) – three survivors of the terrorist attack who met with him earlier that day.
Cover photo: IMAGO / MediaPunch