President Joe Biden visited Tulsa on Tuesday in order to commemorate and memorialize the Tulsa Race Massacre on its centennial as some survivors and activists push for reparations.
As The Daily Wire noted, the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission was reportedly putting together the “Remember & Rise” event on May 31 that was scheduled to include a performance by singer John Legend, and speakers, including Stacey Abrams.
NBC reported, however, that the event “was abruptly canceled because lawyers representing survivors and descendants demanded a higher fee for their participation in the event than had been originally agreed upon, a commission official said.”
The three living survivors’ legal representatives reportedly asked for the survivors to be included in the event in exchange for $100,000 each and a $2 million seed donation to a reparations coalition fund, state Senator Kevin Matthews, chairman of the commission, said at a press conference.
Even though the parties had agreed to those terms, at the last minute, the lawyers instead requested $1 million for each person and $50 million for the fund, Matthews said.
“We could not respond to those demands,” he confirmed. “I absolutely want the survivors, the descendants, and others that were affected to be financially and emotionally supported, however, this is not the way, no matter how hard we try.”
The New York Times reported, “The financial toll of the massacre is evident in the $1.8 million in property loss claims — $27 million in today’s dollars — detailed in a 2001 state commission report.”
Anneliese Bruner, a descendant of one of the survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, told Politico that she is hoping Biden’s speech and his visit to the city provides lawmakers “space and cover they need to begin the cash reparations conversation in earnest.”
“He can be the transformational President the country needs to open the pathway to full, cash reparations for our bondage on American soil,” she said.
At a White House press briefing on Tuesday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked if Biden supports reparations for families of the victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
Jean-Pierre responded, “So, the President believes that what these survivors have endured is tragic and devastating. First and foremost, he is honored to have the opportunity to listen to them and learn from their experiences. He also plans to convey his heartfelt gratitude for their bravery in sharing the stories of the trauma and violence that was wrought on them and their families. And that is — that is going to be his focus today, and that’s what he wants to do.”
When pressed on the content of Biden’s discussions while in Tulsa, she answered, “President Biden believes we have to take core steps right now to fight systemic racism, things like fighting redlining, supporting funding for under schools — underfunded schools that are too often located in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods, and more.”
She continued, “He also supports a study, as we’ve said before, into reparations, but believes that, first and foremost, the task in front of us is not to root out — is to root out systemic racism where it exists right now. And that’s why it’s…central to all of his agenda.”
Various efforts to provide reparations to African Americans have been started in recent years. As The Daily Wire reported in April, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) has led the effort to introduce a bill that would address slavery in the United States and create a commission in order to study potential slavery reparations.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll from last July, only 31% of Americans approve of federal payment as reparations for descendants of slaves.