Upon visiting Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Tuesday to commemorate the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, President Joe Biden appeared to be moving away from supporting potential slavery reparations.
According to a report by Politico, Biden discussed racism in his speech on Tuesday, but he did not mention the potential to create reparations for the massacre survivors or their descendants or acknowledge his support for H.R. 40, a bill that would address slavery and establish a commission to study reparations.
H.R. 40 was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year, but it has not yet been scheduled for a vote on the floor.
Politico reported, “After his speech Tuesday, the president met with the members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), who brought up the need for H.R. 40, which is named after the ’40 acres and a mule’ promise that now symbolizes the lack of support formerly enslaved people received from the federal government. According to those involved in the conversations, Biden let them down gently.”
“He didn’t disagree with what we’re doing,” said Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), the second vice chair of the CBC. “He did talk about his plate [being] full with trying to get the infrastructure bill passed and that he really wanted to make sure that he could get that through before he took on anything else.”
Lawrence said that Biden’s biggest worry about H.R. 40 is “getting it through the Senate.”
Politico received a comment from an administration official who said, “The President reiterated to the congressional members that he is actually doing the work right now on breaking down systemic racism and racial disparities. It’s at the heart of his work in this Administration.”
On Tuesday, the White House notably side-stepped questions about Biden’s support for reparations for the victims of the massacre.
As The Daily Wire reported, 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.”
Jean-Pierre noted, however, that Biden “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.”
On Monday, Biden issued a proclamation and declared May 31, 2021, a “Day of Remembrance” for the centennial of the massacre. In his proclamation, Biden called on Americans “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.”
“The Federal Government must reckon with and acknowledge the role that it has played in stripping wealth and opportunity from Black communities,” he said in the statement.
“It’s our work to continue to push him. We’re not going to seat a perfect president,” Representative Cori Bush (D-MO) said. “And so we know that we have to look at what our needs are and push. And so that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll from February discovered that only 38% of voters supported a committee to study reparations and 35% supported reparations to descendants of enslaved African Americans.