WASHINGTON — One hundred years after a white mob burned “Black Wall Street” to the ground, killing hundreds of African Americans and forcing thousands from their homes, President Joe Biden will visit Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Tuesday to commemorate one of the bloodiest race massacres in U.S. history.
Biden will deliver remarks on the 100-year anniversary and speak to survivors of the attack, who are now between the ages of 101 and 107. Only three remain.
On Monday, the White House issued a proclamation in which Biden called on Americans “to commemorate the tremendous loss of life and security that occurred over those 2 days in 1921, to celebrate the bravery and resilience of those who survived and sought to rebuild their lives again, and commit together to eradicate systemic racism and help to rebuild communities and lives that have been destroyed by it.”
“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,” the statement reads.
For a century, the Tulsa race massacre of May 31, 1921, went largely ignored by sitting U.S. presidents, never prompting a trip specifically to honor those killed in the once-thriving Black neighborhood of Greenwood until now.
Immediately after the massacre, President Warren G. Harding said he was “shocked” and hoped that “such a spectacle would never again be witnessed in this country,” a plea the federal government did little to ensure. Subsequent incidents of racist violence continued for decades after the wholesale killings in Tulsa.