Biden To Meet With Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors During Visit

May 26, 2021

Ike Howard (at podium) speaks during a May news conference about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. He's the grandson of massacre survivor Viola Fletcher (seated left of Howard). The White House announced Wednesday President Joe Biden will meet with survivors next week during a visit to Tulsa for the massacre centennial.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

The White House confirmed Wednesday President Joe Biden’s Tulsa visit on Tuesday will include time in Greenwood.

Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden will deliver remarks to commemorate the Tulsa Race Massacre centennial.

"While there, he will meet with surviving members of the community, now between the ages of … 101 to 107 and tour the Greenwood Cultural Center," Jean-Pierre said.

Survivors demand reparations for the 1921 attack that destroyed their community and killed an unknown number of residents. Lessie Benningfield "Mother" Randle, Viola "Mother" Fletcher and Hughes Van Ellis Sr. are the lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit demanding the City of Tulsa and other parties pay to abate a public nuisance of inequality and trauma they caused through the massacre and actions in the years that followed.

Fletcher’s grandson, Ike Howard, spoke about the need for reparations at a news conference earlier this month.

"These people are suffering. That night, she witnessed death and despair. We almost lost a generation that night. If she don’t survive, I’m not here. If she don’t survive, I’m not here, period. So, you can’t have atonement without reparations," Howard said.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has said reparations in the form of cash payments would divide the city.

Jean-Pierre did not say during Wednesday's press briefing wether Biden would participate in any activities organized by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. Survivors have told the commission through their attorneys to stop using their likenesses in promoting events.

Survivors and their descendants have also called on the commission to dedicate some of their funding and Greenwood Rising history center revenue to them.