Biden honours US Tulsa massacre survivors | Ralph-Lauren

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Joe Biden has become the first sitting US president to visit the Tulsa, Oklahoma, site where hundreds of black people were massacred by a white mob in 1921 as he marked the country’s history of racial violence.

Biden met with the handful of surviving members of the Greenwood neighbourhood on the 100th anniversary of the killings, where he planned to announce steps to combat inequality.

They will include plans to expand federal contracting with small, disadvantaged businesses, invest tens of billions of dollars in communities like Greenwood that suffer from persistent poverty and pursue new efforts to combat housing discrimination.

“It was a massacre,” Biden said as he toured a Greenwood cultural centre before meeting with three people who lived in the district during the massacre, Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Benningfield Randle.

Now between the ages of 101 and 107, those survivors asked Congress for “justice” this year and are parties to a lawsuit against state and local officials seeking several remedies for the massacre, including a victim compensation fund.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden would listen, learn and portray his heartfelt gratitude to those three people in the private meeting.

“What these survivors have endured is tragic and devastating,” Jean-Pierre told reporters on the flight to Oklahoma on Tuesday.

But Biden did not answer a reporter’s question about whether there should be an official US presidential apology for the incident.

His spokeswoman did not say whether the president would discuss whether reparations should be paid to the descendants of people who were affected.

Biden plans to address the US legacy of racist violence, and the challenges to unity ahead, an administration official said.

Biden cannot fulfil his promise to restore the “soul” of the country without recognising the complexity of US history, the official said.

In a proclamation on Monday, Biden asked all US citizens to “reflect on the deep roots of racial terror in our nation and recommit to the work of rooting out systemic racism across our country”.

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