Although many U.S. history books have not been written accurately, President Joseph Biden spoke in Tulsa, Okla. to set the record straight. The horrific massacre that took place 100 years ago had been effectively silenced in mainstream America for a century.
An emotional President Biden extended an olive branch for healing and an accurate portrayal of the historic event on May 31st – June 1st, 1921.
This marked the very first time that an American president came to humbly address the survivors and residents from the African American community.
“Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous, they cannot be buried, no matter how hard people try, said Biden. “Only with truth can come healing,” he said.
Gathering historic facts from survivors and historians, Biden acknowledged the 300 people who were murdered and the 1,200 homes that were destroyed, as part of a racial uprising by white supremacists. According to Tulsa historians, the incident that stirred the massacre was when a Black male accidently stepped on a white woman’s foot.
The man was supposed to be lynched, as Jim Crow laws dictated at the time, but Black men came to his defense with guns to protect him. Some members of the white community became enraged and destroyed, what is commonly called “Black Wall Street,” by effectively burning down everything but the church.
Biden said the cover-up of history would not continue to exist. Speaking to the survivors in the audience, Biden said, “Now your story will be known in full view.”
Viola Ford Fletcher, 107, her brother Hughes Van Ellis, 100, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, age 106, are survivors of the massacre. After Biden spoke, they sang the Negro spiritual, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.”
They bear witness to the former 30 street block district of all Black businesses, that did exist. The remaining residents of the community lived in an internment camp and were managed by the National Guard.
The descendants have not received any reparations for their loss of land or financial reimbursement. Even though $30 million was raised for the Tulsa Centennial Celebration, none of the survivors profited from their pain. The elders are living in poverty and the President spoke to them privately.
Since 2000, the Tulsa Massacre has been taught in the public school system, where school administrations allow this curriculum to be taught. A children’s book is on the market, titled “Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Riots.” It was written by Carole Boston Weatherford and Floyd Cooper.
Much like the Native American’s, who have recently received land, some politicians are asking that the descendants from the Tulsa Massacre receive something tangible for the historic loss. The situation in Tulsa was not the only racial massacre, as white supremacists targeted many other Black communities in this country with destruction in the past.