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Remembering the Tulsa Black Massacre: 100 Years Later

Tulsa Black Massacre Memorial at Vernon AME Church, Only Black owned building to survive the 1921 Tulsa Massacre

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On May 31 and June 1, 1921, a systematic massacre of Blacks lasted more than sixteeen hours in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The massacre became known as the single worst incident of racial violence in American history. Over the two days, heavily armed mobs of  White Tulsans  systematically attacked and killed Black Tulsans. The Whote mobs looted,  robbed , destroyed, and  burned down homes and businesses owned by the Blacks in the district of Greenwood,  the most affluent Black community in the United States of America,  at the time,  known as the Black Wall Street. On May 28, 2021, the oldest  living survivors, including Viola Fletcher, 107,  her sister  Hughes Van Ellis, 100,  and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106, also known as Mother Randle were among the mass of people who gatherered in Tulsa, to attend the Black Wall Steet Legacy Festival 2021. 

During the Tulsa Black massacre, it was  estimated that 300 people were killed and  thousands, left homeless.  The entire Black Community, widely a symbol of the achievements and possibilities of the Black ingenuisity, hard work, creativity, and savvy business acumen  was  devastated, in just two days.  Now, hundred years later, the US is facing the legacy of the most tragic event, and what to do, to address that horrible legacy.  

The massacre started when a Black man was accused of assaulting a white woman. Under the uproven  allegations,  armed white mobs attacked and shot  Blacks, systematically looted, destroyed and set abrase their homes and businessess buildings, block by block. It is estimated that more than 1,000 buildings belonging to Black owned  businesses were destroyed. The sixteen hours of massacring  Blacks and destroying the Black community on May 31 and June 1, 1921, ended only when National Guardsmen were brought in by the Governor. An official report later claimed that  only 23 Blacks, and 16 Whites  were killed.  More realistic estimates put the number of people killed to more than  300 people,  most of them Blacks. Tulsa White political and business leaders and the judicial system covered the massacres and, rather blamed the Black community.  To date, no murderer has been charged for the Tulsa Black massacre. 


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To mark the event, US President Joe Biden declared Monday 31, 2021 a day of remembrance and issued a proclamation. In the proclamation, President Biden  recognized the detrimental role played by the US Government in "stripping wealth and opportunity from Black Communities" and urged all  Americans to "commit together to eradicate systemic racism and help to rebuild communities and lives that have been destroyed by it."

I call upon the people of the United States 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,” Biden said in the proclamation.Biden declared Monday a day of remembrance, calling on Americans to "commit together to eradicate systemic racism and help to rebuild communities and lives that have been destroyed by it."

President Biden also committed to addressing racial inequity in the US  by  "ensuring that infrastructure projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice and promote affordable access."

 On Tuesday, President Biden plans to visit Tulsa,  give a speech on the massacre,  and meet with survivors of the Tulsa Black Massacre of May 31-June 1, 1921


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