Los Angeles – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, issued the following statement to commemorate the Tulsa race massacre 100 years later. This weekend, Congresswoman Waters traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to commemorate the Tulsa race massacre. While in Tulsa, Congresswoman Waters served on a panel hosted by Angela Rye to discuss the need for reparations for survivors and descendants.
“The Tulsa race massacre that began 100 years ago on this day is a painful reminder of the ways in which Black people in this country have been oppressed and harmed, and then erased from history. On May 31, 1921 a violent White mob, encouraged by city officials determined to destroy Black Wall Street, a symbol of Black excellence, captured and killed hundreds of Black men, women, and children; destroyed schools, hospitals, and Black-owned businesses; and to this day have yet to be held accountable for the terrorist attack they carried out.
“It is my belief that hope, above all else, is the most powerful weapon in the world, and the Greenwood District – to this day – represents that hope. Greenwood became known as the Black Wall Street and served as a symbol of Black prosperity and wealth.
“So, it is no surprise that the Greenwood District was targeted by a violent White mob, and it is no surprise that city officials weaponized and deputized this mob to terrorize an entire community of thriving and prosperous Black people. It is no surprise that officials did everything in their power to stop the community from rebuilding, and it is no surprise that justice has yet to be served. They tried to take our hope away, but they did not succeed in that.
“When reflecting on the day before their lives changed forever, survivors of the Tulsa race massacre describe a peaceful sleep on May 30, 1921 in which they went to bed in a community where they felt safe, loved, protected, and empowered. In just a few days’ time, they would never be the same. Still, they relive the massacre every single day. They see images of their neighbors being killed, of their businesses being burned, and they remember the moment in which they were told to hide to avoid being captured. As is the case in the struggle for Black liberation, this was too often left out of the history books, and the pain of the community was and still is ignored or forgotten.
“To those suffering with the memories of the events that transpired 100 years ago today, I stand with you in this fight for justice. I am reviewing and assessing how the Financial Services Committee, which I chair, can honor the research that proves that thousands of survivors lost their savings because bank books were burned, and insurance companies refused to payout claims by falsely citing that the massacre was instead a riot. I am honoring the research that identifies both banks and insurance companies that should be held responsible for reparations regarding life and wealth.
“In the final analysis, Black people know and understand that the violent White mob did not destroy our community – they took lives and destroyed buildings, but they did not destroy us. We must push forward with hope and passion. Justice will be ours.”