President Joe Biden vowed to "root out systemic racism" in a statement Monday to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, which wiped out one of the nation's most prosperous Black neighborhoods.
Biden will travel to the Oklahoma city this week to commemorate the massacre that took place May 31-June 1, 1921, when a white mob destroyed Tulsa's Greenwood district, known as "Black Wall Street" for its abundance of Black-owned businesses. An unknown number of people were killed, with estimates ranging from 50 to 300.
"We honor the legacy of the Greenwood community, and of Black Wall Street, by reaffirming our commitment to advance racial justice through the whole of our government, and working to root out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, and our hearts," Biden said in the proclamation.
Biden has made racial equity a centerpiece of his presidency. The government must "reckon with and acknowledge" the role it has played in stripping wealth and opportunities from Black Americans, Biden said.
"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.
The Tulsa massacre was one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history, but for decades was little known outside Oklahoma.
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