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Biden on the destruction in Tulsa 100 years ago: ‘This was not a riot. This was a massacre.’

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Speaking on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, President Biden held a moment of silence for the Black residents killed when a white mob in the Greenwood District beat and murdered hundreds of Black residents and destroyed their neighborhood. Biden called the violence that day a “massacre.”

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: 100 years ago, at this hour on this first day of June, smoke darkened the Tulsa sky, rising from 35 blocks of Greenwood. They were left in ash and ember, razed in rubble. In less than 24 hours-- in less than 24 hours-- 1,100 Black homes and businesses were lost.

Insurance companies-- they had insurance, many of them-- rejected claims of damage. 10,000 people were left destitute and homeless, placed in internment camps. As I was told today, they were told, don't you mention you were ever in a camp or we'll come and get you. That's what survivors told me. Yet no one-- no arrests of the mob were made. None.

No proper accounting of the dead. The death toll records by local officials said there were 36 people. That's all, 36 people. But based on studies, records, and accounts, the likelihood-- the likely number is much more in the multiple of 100. Untold bodies dumped into mass graves. Families who at the time waited for hours and days to know the fate of their loved ones are now descendants who have gone 100 years without closure.

But you know, as we speak, the process of exhuming the unmarked graves has started. And at this moment, I'd like to pause for a moment of silence for the fathers, the mothers, the sisters, sons, and daughters, friends of God and Greenwood. They deserve the dignity, and they deserve our respect. May their souls rest in peace.

My fellow Americans, this was not a riot. This was a massacre.

[APPLAUSE]

Among-- among the worst in our history. But not the only one. And for too long, forgotten by our history.

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