White House announces steps to narrow racial wealth gap on anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre

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TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – 100 years after one of the worst instances of racial violence in the United States, the Biden Administration is announcing new initiatives to narrow the racial wealth gap.

The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma was once called the “Black Wall Street,” a 35-block radius in the segregated community that was thriving with hundreds of businesses.

3rd June 1921: injured and wounded men are being taken to hospital by National guardsmen after racially motivated riots, also known as the “Tulsa Race Massacre”, during which a mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, US. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

But, on May 31 through June 1, 1921, the entire area was burned down as a white mob attacked the community after a Black man was accused of assaulting a white woman.

White residents burned down homes and businesses, killing hundreds of Black residents and injuring 800 others.

Despite it being one of the worst instances of racial violence in the United States, the massacre was mostly swept under the rug.

Although the Tulsa Race Massacre occurred 100 years ago, the community never fully recovered.

In this 1921 image provided by the Library of Congress, smoke billows over Tulsa, Okla. For decades, when it was discussed at all, the killing of hundreds of people in a prosperous black business district in 1921 was referred to as the Tulsa race riot. Under new standards developed by teachers for approaching the topic, students are encouraged to consider the differences between labeling it a “massacre” instead of a “riot,” as it is still commemorated in state laws. (Alvin C. Krupnick Co./Library of Congress via AP)

Businesses were never able to rebuild, and innocent families were not compensated for the losses caused by the mob.

Although there are estimates regarding the casualties that occurred during the attack, officials have been working for more than a year to find all of the victims.

According to the White House, an estimated 300 Black Americans were killed and another 10,000 were left destitute and homeless.

Officials say after the massacre, laws and policies made recovery for the survivors nearly impossible.

FILE – In this June 15, 2020 file photo, Freeman Culver stands in front of a mural listing the names of businesses destroyed during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Tulsa, Okla. Attorneys for victims and their descendants affected by the 1921 massacre filed a lawsuit in state court on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, against the City of Tulsa and other defendants seeking reparations for the destruction of the city’s once thriving Black district. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki File)

“The streets were redlined, locking Black Tulsans out of homeownership and access to credit. Federal highways built through the heart of Greenwood cut off families and businesses from economic opportunity. And chronic disinvestment by the federal government in Black entrepreneurs and small businesses denied Black Wall Street a fair shot at rebuilding,” a release from the White House read.

Now, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new steps to help narrow the racial wealth gap and reinvest in communities that have been left behind by failed polices.

The Administration says it will take action to address racial discrimination in the housing market, including by launching a first-of-its-kind interagency effort to address inequity in home appraisals, and conducting rulemaking to aggressively combat housing discrimination.

Also, it plans to use the federal government’s purchasing power to grow federal contracting with small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent, translating to an additional $100 billion over five years, and helping more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

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