On the 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) introduced a new resolution to make June 1st“Black Wall Street Day.” The resolution seeks to honor the lives lost in the destruction of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as “Black Wall Street,” for its vibrant and affluent Black community.
“Black Wall St. was a promised land for African-Americans in search of a better life amid the broken promise of Reconstruction. 100 years ago, that land was the scene of the worst act of racial terrorism. Today, I am proud to introduce a resolution to recognize June 1stas “Black Wall St. Day,” said Rep. Torres.
The introduction of the resolution comes as part of the ongoing national conversation around how to properly honor the victims of the massacre and bring justice to survivors. The Tulsa Race Massacre historically has been referred to as the Tulsa Race Riot to give the false impression that it was not an act of terrorism, but simply an altercation.
“Until recently most Americans had never heard of Black Wall Street or the Tulsa Race Massacre because it was never taught in our public school system,”’ said Rep. Torres. “In order to understand where we are and where we must go, we must understand and study how we arrived at a society that is as racially divided and unequal.”
The Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics underreported the death count claiming only 36 fatalities versus the actual death count of up to 300. None of the perpetrators were punished or prosecuted, none of the survivors were paid reparations and some were even falsely indicted for inciting a race riot. For one hundred years the true events of that day have not been taught in schools or understood by much of the American population.
“The burning of Black Wall Street, the sheer destruction of what could have been and should have been $27 million of intergenerational black wealth, has left behind a legacy of racial inequality that remains with us a century later. Before the burning of Black Wall Street, Black Tulsans and White Tulsans had nearly identical rates of home ownership. Today, Black Tulsans have one sixth the wealth of White Tulsans, and in the United States at large Black households have less than 15% of the wealth of white households.”
“I am here to tell the truth about what happened that day as part of our national reckoning with race in America. I am proud to work with state and local officials to honor the lives lost 100 years ago in this tragic, racist massacre,” said Rep. Torres.
Full text of the resolution here