Biden became the first sitting U.S President to visit the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre on Tuesday, where he met with the last survivors, unveiled his proposal to deliver racial equity across the nation, whilst asserting that white supremacy is the most dangerous threat to the homeland.
Whilst delivering his remarks to commemorate the events of 100 years ago, Biden said “For much too long the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness. But just because history is silent, it doesn’t mean that it did not take place. And while darkness can hide much, it erases nothing. Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous they can’t be buried no matter how hard people try.”
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Biden then continued on to quote U.S. intelligence to assert that “terrorism by white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today. Not ISIS, not al–Qaeda: white supremacists.” He continued by promising that his “administration will soon lay out a broader strategy to counter domestic terrorism and the violence driven by the most heinous hate crimes and other forms of bigotry.”
On May 31st,1921, a white mob attacked the predominantly black area of Greenwood, Tulsa, fuelled by claims that a black teenager had attacked a white woman. By the time the mob was finished it had pillaged and burned its way through more than 35 city blocks of entirely black-owned businesses, killing as many as 300 people. A 2001 state commission concluded that the mob had caused around $1.8million in damages, or in today’s money about $27million.
Whilst President Biden never mentioned the issue of paying reparations, despite having met with the last three remaining survivors ahead of his remarks: Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Benningfield Randle, all three of whom testified before Congress last month calling for reparations, he did mention several of his initiatives designed to combat racism and its effects, including the passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which aims to make data on hate crimes more accessible to the general public alongside making it easier to report such crimes.
Another initiative to close the wealth divide between black and white Americans by addressing the discrimination in the housing market by launching an interagency effort to address inequality in home appraisals and the home buying process. Biden also intends to “Use the federal government’s purchasing power to grow federal contracting with small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent, translating to an additional $100 billion over five years,” according to the official White House announcement.
Biden also used the speech to announce that Vice President Kamala Harris will be given the task of leading the administration’s efforts to defend voting rights, declaring that her leadership will “overcome” the efforts taken to reduce access to voting, a clear reference to the dozens of elections security bills being proposed in many state legislatures across the country.
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ARTICLE: NATHAN REID
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: POLITICO