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Monday, June 14, 2021

Biden Promises Tulsa Massacre Survivors Their Story Will Be ‘Known in Full View’

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Missing from the rollout, though, was a plan to cancel student debt — which disproportionately affects Black students — or to address the issue of reparations, federal repayments that relatives of Tulsa victims say could restore what was erased. White House officials have said that the president supports a study of the issue, as he does with the broader issue of reparations for Black Americans.

The N.A.A.C.P. and other civil rights groups have criticized the Biden administration for not taking the step to cancel student loans, saying it is one of the biggest obstacles holding Black people back from sharing in the wealth of other Americans.

“Student loan debt continues to suppress the economic prosperity of Black Americans across the nation,” Derrick Johnson, the N.A.A.C.P. president, said in a statement. “You cannot begin to address the racial wealth gap without addressing the student loan debt crisis.”

On the way to Tulsa, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House principal deputy press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One that the administration had provided billions in funding to Black colleges as part of its $1.7 trillion coronavirus plan. But she did not answer questions about alleviating the financial stress of those who currently have student debt.

In a briefing for reporters on Monday night, administration officials insisted that the other steps would help Black people around the country, particularly hard-hit communities like Greenwood.

Mr. Biden’s visit to Tulsa was a somber one. Before he delivered remarks, he met privately with survivors of the massacre, each between the ages of 101 and 107, whom he mentioned throughout his speech.

The violence started after the arrest of Dick Rowland, 19, a Black shoe shiner who was accused of assault against Sarah Page, 17, a white elevator operator. As Mr. Biden toured the Greenwood Culture Center, he was told that within 24 hours of that encounter, the mob that formed after Mr. Rowland’s arrest destroyed much of Greenwood. The case was later dismissed.

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