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'This was a massacre' -Biden honors Tulsa victims

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“My fellow Americans, this was not a riot, this was a massacre [applause]….”

Joe Biden on Tuesday became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Tulsa, Oklahoma, site where hundreds of Black Americans were massacred by a white mob 100 years ago.

Public awareness of the killings has been growing in recent years - after the deadly event went for decades without being taught in history classes or reported by local newspapers.

“For much too long, the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness. But just because history is silent, it doesn’t mean that it did not take place. We can’t just chose to learn what we want to know, and not what we should know. [applause]”

On May 31 and June 1st of 1921, white residents shot and killed about300 Black people and burned and looted homes and businesses, devastating the prosperous African-American community of Greenwood, after a white woman accused a Black man of assault, an allegation that was never proven. No one was charged for the violence.

"May their souls rest in peace...."

Biden oversaw a moment of silence for the victims after meeting with three people who lived through the massacre, now between the ages of 101 and 107.

The Biden administration also planned steps to combat inequality. They include efforts to expand federal contracting with small, disadvantaged businesses, and invest tens of billions of dollars in communities like Greenwood that suffer from persistent poverty.

Earlier in the day Biden toured a museum dedicated to the Tulsa massacre.

His visit comes during a racial reckoning in the U.S., as threats increase from white supremacist groups and the country re-examines its treatment of African Americans after last year's murder of George Floyd.

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: My fellow Americans, this was not a riot, this was a massacre.

- Joe Biden on Tuesday became the first sitting US president to visit the Tulsa, Oklahoma site where hundreds of Black Americans were massacred by a white mob 100 years ago. Public awareness of the killings has been growing in recent years after the deadly event went for decades without being taught in history classes or reported by local newspapers.

JOE BIDEN: For much too long, the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness. But just because history is silent, it doesn't mean that it did not take place. We can't just choose to learn what we want to know and not only should know.

- On May 31st and June 1st of 1921, white residents shot and killed about 300 Black people, and burned and looted homes and businesses, devastating the prosperous African-American community of Greenwood after a white woman accused a Black man of assault, an allegation that was never proven. No one was charged for the violence.

JOE BIDEN: May their souls rest in peace.

- Biden oversaw a moment of silence for the victims after meeting with three people who lived through the massacre now between the ages of 101 and 107. The Biden administration also plans steps to combat inequality. They include efforts to expand federal contracting with small disadvantaged businesses and invest tens of billions of in communities like Greenwood that suffer from persistent poverty.

Earlier in the day, Biden toured a museum dedicated to the Tulsa Massacre. His visit comes during a racial reckoning in the US, as threats increase from white supremacist groups, and the country re-examines its treatment of African-Americans after last year's murder of George Floyd.