President Joe Biden commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre with a speech on June 1 in the city’s Greenwood District, in which he addressed racial wealth inequalities but stopped short of backing reparations.
Once known as Black Wall Street, the area was a prosperous Black community until May 31-to-June 1, in 1921, when a white mob burned and destroyed the 30-block historically Black district. An estimated 300 people were killed during the massacre.
Here are five key takeaways from the speech.
Biden didn’t mention reparations for Native Black Americans.
Political scientist and CNN commentator Dr. Jason Johnson tweeted, “#TulsaMassacre was an attack on Black people. Not minorities. Not disadvantaged groups. For Biden to leave Tulsa without cutting a check to the survivors of documented terrorism shows a lack of commitment to address past and ongoing discrimination against Black people.”
Some challenged Dr. Johnson. And The Tweet Goes On @lacadri34 aksed, “Since when do presidents cut reparation checks for survivors of incidents like these?”
JoeMama @Mama4Obama1 agreed: “Since when can presidents just ‘cut a check’. Last I checked Congress , more specifically the House controlled the purse of government.”
Biden was the first sitting U.S. president to honor the Tulsa massacre victims. “Pres. Biden becomes the first sitting president to visit the historic Greenwood neighborhood to commemorate the Tulsa Race Massacre.”
During his Tulsa speech, President Biden announced that he was tapping Vice President Kamala Harris to lead efforts on voting rights as the GOP carries out efforts to pass laws restricting voting.
On Twitter, @EricJoh15156464 responded, “The power of President Biden speech today has given me hope. I can’t wait to see what the future brings now that they have a president that is for the people and by the people.”
Until Biden’s speech, many Americans had not heard of the Tulsa Race Massacre. “I am almost 60 years old and I’m ashamed to say that I never even heard of the Tulsa massacre until recently. How can that be?” designrlady @md_kenney tweeted. “In all the years of history classes? Unfathomable!”
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During his speech, Biden said, “…young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers, they don’t have accountants…”
Some felt this remark was patronizing.
Novelist LaTasha Tacha B. Braxton, who tweets under the name Tacha B.@Itsmzchampagne, replied, “Wooooow!!! So not only are we incapable of using the internet…we can’t afford nor find lawyers and accountants neither! The mind of a white liberal I swear!!”
Others defended Biden, saying he was talking about access.