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Biden to visit Tulsa on 100th anniversary of race massacre

President Joe Biden
Posted at 1:15 PM, May 31, 2021

President Joe Biden on Tuesday will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre — an attack on a Black majority neighborhood of the city that left hundreds dead and thousands more homeless a century ago.

During his visit, Biden will visit a cultural center that commemorates the neighborhood that was destroyed in the riots. He'll later give public remarks in the city.

The visit comes a day after the White House issued a proclamation calling on the federal government to "reckon with and acknowledge the role that it has played in stripping wealth and opportunity from Black communities."

Between May 31 and June 1, 1921, white rioters destroyed dozens of buildings in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa — a thriving Black majority neighborhood.

While the official death toll notes that 36 people were killed in the massacre, historians estimate the true death toll may be as high as 300. Thousands of people were left homeless following the destruction.

MORE: The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A look back 100 years later

"Homes, businesses, and churches were burned. In all, as many as 300 Black Americans were killed, and nearly 10,000 were left destitute and homeless," the White House proclamation reads.

The White House proclamation also notes that in the aftermath of the riots, the city passed new ordinances that made it more difficult for Black people to rebuild their homes. In addition, banks instituted redline policies that made it impossible for Black people in Tulsa to regain the wealth they had built in the 1910s.

"The attack on Black families and Black wealth in Greenwood persisted across generations," the proclamation reads.

The proclamation also quotes 107-year-old Viola Fletcher, a survivor of the riots who testified on Capitol Hill about her experience earlier this month.

“I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home," Fletcher said. "I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams. I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.”

In closing, Biden called Monday a "Day of Remembrance" for the massacre and called on Americans to "commit together to eradicate systemic racism and help to rebuild communities and lives that have been destroyed by it."

Biden will visit Tulsa on Tuesday to attend an event dedicated to the lives lost and changed forever due to the massacre.

Read the entire proclamation here.