Biden Offers Plan To Close Racial Wealth Gap On 100th Anniversary Of Tulsa Massacre
To mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, President Joe Biden visited Tulsa, Oklahoma on Tuesday to announced new steps to help decrease the racial wealth gap.
After meeting with survivors of that community and touring the Greenwood Cultural Center, he revealed two new initiatives: one to elevate the growth of minority-owned businesses and another to address systemic racism in the housing market.
On May 30, 1921, Dick Rowland, a young black man, stepped into an elevator at the Drexel Building in the Greenwood area of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Along with him, entered Sarah Page, a white elevator operator. As soon as she saw him there, she let out a scream. Though Rowland hadn’t even touched her, the police showed up at the scene, which he had fled out of fear, and soon thereafter arrested him for sexually assaulting Page.
Rumors of what Rowland allegedly did to Page fueled an angry white mob that subsequently gathered outside the courthouse and confronted the men at the barricades who wouldn’t hand over Rowland. There was talk of possible lynching, and 75 black men showed up to defend Rowland against the mob, but they were overpowered by at least 1,500 white men.
For about 18 hours, the white mob looted and burned Greenwood, a business and residential district that was then known as the affluent “Black Wall Street.” The media suppressed reporting on the tragedy.
When Biden proclaimed May 31, 2021 as a national Day of Remembrance: 100 Years After The Tulsa Race Massacre, he also pointed to the fact that most survivors of that tragedy never received justice. Since the 35 blocks were destroyed, Greenwood has only been a fraction of what it used to be.
Biden pressed the federal government on Tuesday to “acknowledge the role that it has played in stripping wealth and opportunity from black communities.”
To help close the wealth gap, Biden introduced a $10 billion fund to revitalize and support infrastructure proposals in underdeveloped communities like Greenwood.
The fund would also make use of vacant building space and provide low-cost space to community marketplaces, health centers and cultural spaces. It would get rid of toxic waste and build new parks and gardens.
Additionally, the American Jobs Plan would give $31 billion to support minority-owned businesses.
To target discrimination in the housing market, Biden announced an interagency effort to combat inequity in processes like home appraisal. He said that he will work with HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge to establish stronger enforcement and regulatory action of fair housing laws working in tandem with state and local governments.
Derrick Johnson, the NAACP’s national president, criticized the administration for failing to mention another deeper issue: the student loan debt crisis.
In a statement released to CNN, Johnson expressed his concern that “you cannot begin to address the racial wealth gap without addressing the student loan debt crisis.”