The symbol is significant: as Joe Biden himself pointed out, it was not until a century after the events for a president to visit this historic district to commemorate a dark page in the past of the United States, which has been almost evacuated. history books.
Murders, looted businesses, vandalized houses, burnt buildings, bombs dropped from private planes: between May 31 and June 1, 1921, the district of Greenwood, which was nicknamed the
Wall Street noir, was the target of one of the worst episodes of racial violence in American history, without even a single person being charged.
My fellow Americans, this was not a riot. It was a massacre, insisted Joe Biden during his speech, calling in particular for a moment of silence
for fathers, mothers, sisters, sons and daughters, friends of God and of Greenwood.
They deserve dignity, and they deserve our respect. May their souls rest in peace, he said, making the sign of the cross.
More than 1,200 buildings were set on fire during the Tulsa massacre in 1921.
Photo: via reuters / American Red Cross / Library of Congress.
I have come here to help bridge the silence. Because in the silence the wounds get deeper. And though it hurts, it’s only in the memory that the wounds heal, did he declare.
If the dark can hide a lot, it doesn’t erase anything, he argued.
We cannot choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know. That’s what great nations do. They face their dark side.
Linking past discrimination to current affairs, he denounced, among other things, the bills presented by Republicans from several states. According to Democrats, but also according to several minority or voting rights groups, these legislative initiatives will restrict access to the ballot box, particularly for African Americans and other minorities.
Joe Biden has announced that he is giving Vice President Kamala Harris the responsibility of leading his administration’s efforts to protect the right to vote.
In recent weeks, Florida and Georgia, citing the integrity of the elections, have enacted controversial legislation targeting postal voting in particular. Similar bills are under consideration in other states, including Texas.
He also focused on programs of his administration that he believed would reduce inequalities between blacks and whites, for example by helping entrepreneurs in the African-American community or by facilitating access to employment. property.
However, he did not announce specific actions such as the payment of reparations, as claimed in Congress by the three survivors of the massacre in April and as requested by the descendants of the victims.
Nor did he acquiesce to the request of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization that fights racial discrimination, which calls for action to reduce student loan debt.
In the eyes of the NAACPNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other civil rights groups, student debt is one of the biggest obstacles to black wealth.
Arriving in the city in the early afternoon, the 46th US President immediately visited the Greenwood Cultural Center, then met the three survivors of the tragedy: Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Benningfield Randle, aged between 101 and 107 years old.
On Monday, Joe Biden said the US government should
recognize the role it has played in snatching their wealth and opportunities from black neighborhoods, dont Greenwood.
A candlelight vigil was held on May 31 in Tulsa on the occasion of the commemoration of the massacre.
Photo : Associated Press / John Locher
On Monday, the mayor of Tulsa, George Bynum, also issued a formal apology for
the municipality’s inability to protect our community in 1921.
Official state statistics put the death toll at 45, but in a 2001 report, an Oklahoma commission drew a much higher toll, estimating that the acts of violence had left between 100 and 300 dead.
The effects of the massacre are still being felt today. The inequalities between the north of the city, inhabited mainly by African-Americans, and the south, predominantly white, remain marked.