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Billowing Smoke during Race Riots, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, Alvin C. Krupnick Co., June 1921

Source: Universal History Archive / Getty

President Biden will travel to Oklahoma on Tuesday to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, an event that left more than 300 people dead in the city’s most affluent area known as ‘Black Wall Street’. The visit for the president is a first and comes as many people are learning of the long-overlooked attack on members of the black community in Oklahoma.

On this date 100 years ago, a mob of angry white people attacked Black citizens– including well-known prominent doctors, lawyers, and businessmen. The violent act motivated by racial division left the heart of the city in ruins, leaving $4 million worth of damage and over 10,000 people homeless. It remains one of the worst domestic terrorist acts in U.S. history.

The Tulsa riot has been suppressed with very little acknowledgement from leadership in Washington over the past several decades. Since the national conversation on racial inequality has become increasingly more frequent since the death of George Floyd, the mainstream media has also talked about the massacre’s existence. Last year, the HBO series ‘Watchmen’ depicted the Tulsa race riot in an episode of the show which was an introduction for some people who thought the series of events was fictitious.

After proclaiming a “Day of Remembrance” to mark the 100th anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre, Biden will meet with survivors of the attack in an official ceremony. “To commemorate the tremendous loss of life and security that occurred …to celebrate the bravery and resilience of those who survived and sought to rebuild their lives again,” Biden wrote.

He will also announce several steps “aimed at narrowing the racial wealth gap, including ordering the federal government to direct more contracts to small, disadvantaged businesses,” according to sources familiar with the president’s plans.

However, some believe Biden’s actions aren’t enough. Survivors of the massacre say justice needs to come in the form of reparations a century later. Three people who witnessed their community destroyed at the hands of the white mob testified before Congress last month. “I have lived through the massacre every day,” 107-year-old survivor Viola Fletcher, told lawmakers.”Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.”

There has been no direct identification of those responsible for the Tulsa massacre, but many historians believe Fred Barker and the infamous Barker-Kapris gang set out to destroy the fourty city blocks of Greenwood on May 31, 1921. Newly-linked photographic evidence shows a double-shotgun wielding Barker among those involved in Tulsa that day. The gangster was notorious for committing violent crimes in the Midwest before he was killed in a 1935 shootout with the FBI in Florida.