President Joe Biden will travel to Oklahoma to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the White House announced Tuesday.
Biden will make the trip June 1, according to a statement from the White House. The Tulsa Race Massacre took place May 31-June 1 in 1921, seeing a mob of armed white residents attacking the prosperous black community of Greenwood. The event remains the worst incident of racial violence in American history, killing as many as 300 black residents and burning up to 1,200 homes.
Viola Fletcher, a 107-year-old survivor of the massacre, testified before Congress last week regarding her memory of the attack. Fletcher was seven years old at the time.
“I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home,” Fletcher said. “I still see black men being shot, black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams. I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.”
The riot began after following the arrest of Dick Rowland, a black man, who stood accused of sexually assaulting Sarah Page, an elevator operator in the city. A white mob organized around the county jail where Rowland was being held and protected by six police officers. The charges against him were dropped at Page’s request, according to the Tulsa World.
Nevertheless, the mob marched onto the nearby community of Greenwood, then colloquially known as the “Black Wall Street” due to its residents’ success.
“I am 107 years old and I have never … seen justice. I pray that one day I will,” Fletcher testified. “I have been blessed with a long life and have seen the best and the worst of this country. I think about the terror inflicted upon black people in this country every day.”
Biden will also travel to Virginia on Friday alongside First Lady Jill Biden to visit Joint Base Langley-Eustis for an undisclosed event.