President Joe Biden honored the three living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre during his speech commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the deadly attack.
On Tuesday (June 1), Biden spoke directly to Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Benningfield Randle — the only remaining survivors of the massacre — during his speech. “Thank you for spending so much time with me,” he said. “I really mean it. It was a great honor, a genuine honor. You are the three known remaining survivors of a story seen in the mirror dimly, but no longer. Now your story will be known in full view.”
“Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous they can’t be buried no matter how hard people try, and so it is here only, only with truth, can come healing and justice and repair, only with truth, facing it, but that isn’t enough,” the president added. “First, we have to see, hear and give respect to Mother Randle, Mother Fletcher and Mr. Van Ellis. And to all those lost so many years ago, to all the descendants of those who suffered, to this community, that’s why we’re here, to shine a light, to make sure America knows the story in full.”
Elsewhere in his speech, Biden outlined his administration’s plans to fight the country’s racial inequality, including creating opportunities for small businesses and fighting racial discrimination in housing and voting. Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the administration’s efforts on voting rights to counter the passing of restrictive voting laws in several Republican-led states, such as Texas and Florida.
The president also addressed the ongoing debate over whether or not race and slavery should be taught in schools across the country. “We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know. We should know the good, the bad, the everything. That’s what great nations do,” he said.
Watch a clip from President Biden’s speech below.