Earlier this week, Texas Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee joined leaders and activists across the nation in Tulsa to commemorate the centennial of the race massacre.
A hundred years ago on May 31 and June 1, Greenwood, a neighborhood including what was then known as Black Wall Street, was looted and burned to the ground by Tulsa’s white residents with support from the virtually all-white Tulsa Police Department. In recent years, the massacre has gained attention and on Tuesday, President Joe Biden became the first sitting American president to commemorate the anniversary of the destruction of a prosperous Black community by a white mob that left up to 300 people dead and 10,000 homeless. He traveled to Tulsa to meet with the survivors of the city’s 1921 race massacre and unveiled a broad plan to drive racial equity throughout the country while holding up the city’s past as evidence of the pervasive effects of racism.
“Just because history is silent, it doesn’t mean that it did not take place,” Biden said in remarks to survivors of the massacre and their families at the Greenwood Cultural Center. “Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous, they can’t be buried, no matter how hard people try.”
Jackson Lee is the lead sponsor of H.R. 40—legislation that would establish a federal commission to study the legacy of slavery in the United States and ongoing harms, and develop proposals for how to provide redress and repair, including economic and institutional reparations for Black Americans.
“The idea of Tulsa, and the idea of continued disparities in the African American community, are ones that need to be repaired,” Jackson Lee said Tuesday morning during a virtual caucus press conference.
The Texas Democrat also delivered a passionate keynote address at the “Honoring Survivors and Descendants Luncheon” on Saturday in which she urged Tulsa to keep fighting for reparations.
“Please look at Mother Fletcher and Mother Randle. Please look at Uncle Ellis. They wowed the congressional committee — they left them speechless,” Jackson Lee said. “I need you to organize. I need the meetings to start.”