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house Bill H. Res. 398

Condemning the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Argument in favor

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was a horrific incident in U.S. history, and survivors and their descendents continue to be affected by it to this day. Condemning the violence against the Black community of Greenwood that occurred from May 31 to June 1, 1921, is an important step in acknowledging this event and addressing its impacts.

jimK's Opinion
···
05/31/2021
The fact that this sad event in our history has been so well hidden from so many, screams for a public acknowledgement and a resolution for the public congressional record condemning it. It will make it at little less easy for this to be hidden from history and shows that the Congress has at least some conscience regarding our country’s citizenry.
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Bicycler's Opinion
···
05/31/2021
Slave owners received $300 for every slave which was freed for reparations. They got to keep some of their wealth and pass it on to next generations. As soon as you talk about repairing harms to black people everyone wants to claim that it was part of the past and I didn't own any slaves and it was before my time. We have found a way to keep from repaying the wealth that was stolen from black people from lost wages as slaves, from the loss of real property and money from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, redlining and many other laws designed to keep blacks in a place that are not equal to other Americans. Now the Republicans are assuring us nationwide that they also don't want black voters to vote as they know they won't vote for them. Shameful and this will continue to go down as the dark history of America.
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larubia's Opinion
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05/31/2021
Acknowledgment is the first step, if we really want to end racism. There are some who do not even know this horrific history. Please denounce this massacre. Please encourage curriculum developers to include it in books & lesson content. Begin the discussion of reparations for those families destroyed by this massacre.
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Argument opposed

Rather than Democrats from outside Oklahoma using the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre to advance their political agendas, it would be better to let Tulsa and Oklahoma lawmakers decide how best to mark the massacre’s 100th anniversary. Alternatively, in lieu of passing this meaningless resolution, the House should focus on considering ways to pay reparations to Tulsa massacre survivors and their descendents.

B.R.'s Opinion
···
05/31/2021
@davidf's: Not sure what you mean by your question. In any case, let me make clear that I condemn any violent acts against anyone, whether it be in the past or in the present. While I do believe that we need to acknowledge and learn from our history, be it good or bad, I resent and do believe that the Democrats are using events such as this to further divide the races and I detest that they are using the black community to further their cause.
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JTJ's Opinion
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06/01/2021
This is not about condemning sins of the past. This is intended to cause division today.
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Freethinker's Opinion
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05/31/2021
The Democrats platform is to continue to give free stuff to black people. The only message they are sending is dems prey on their vulnerabilities and try to sympathize yet their policies don’t DO anything to rebuild or transform black businesses in Tulsa or everywhere for that matter. Dems want socialism so they can have a big government that controls everything. If they really cared they’d develop policies to promote private property, businesses, and a booming economy that the black communities once had before FDR ruined it with his New Deal policies and further deteriorated it by LBJ in the 1970s. I agree we should never forget our past and should acknowledge these horrible events but it should also be in truth that the dems are the evil party that continue to feed off society’s most vulnerable by giving empty promises to ultimately get to their goal of a socialist system and dictatorship.
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What is House Bill H. Res. 398?

This resolution would express the sense of the House of Representatives that the U.S. can achieve a more perfect union by condemning the violence and destruction perpetrated against the African-American community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Additionally, this resolution states that a more perfect union might also be achieved by other means, such as promoting tolerance and unity. It also recognizes Congress’s commitment to acknowledging and learning from the history of racism and racial violence in the U.S. in order to reverse the legacy of white supremacy and fight for racial justice.

Finally, this resolution would encourage all persons in the U.S. to reflect upon the country’s history as an “imperfect but committed journey to establish a more perfect union and to cherish and exercise the rights, privileges, and responsibilities guaranteed by the Constitution.”

As a simple resolution, this legislation is non-binding and wouldn’t advance beyond the House if adopted.

Impact

Tulsa, Oklahoma; survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and their descendents; and the House of Representatives.

Cost of House Bill H. Res. 398

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) introduced this resolution to recognize the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre:

“I am honored to be the lead House sponsor of this bicameral resolution recognizing and acknowledging the forthcoming centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, a horrific event that is the largest single instance of State-sanctioned violence against Black people in American history This resolution honors the lives and legacies of the estimated 300 Black individuals who were killed during the Massacre and the nearly 9,000 Black individuals who were left homeless and penniless and it condemns the participants of the Tulsa Race Massacre, including White municipal officials and law enforcement who directly participated in or who aided and abetted the unlawful violence.”

Rep. Jackson Lee further notes that this resolution is needed to condemn the continued legacy of racism and White supremacy against Black people in the U.S.:

“This resolution is particularly timely because it condemns the continued legacy of racism, including systemic racism, and White supremacy against Black people in the United States, particularly in the form of police brutality; encourages education about the Tulsa Race Massacre; and recognizes the commitment of Congress to acknowledge and learn from the history of racism and racial violence in the United States, including the Tulsa Race Massacre, to reverse the legacy of White supremacy and fight for racial justice. Finally, this horrific terroristic act of the 1900s further shows the need for H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals.  The victims of the Tulsa Riots are crying out for a response.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), sponsor of a Senate companion to this resolution, says:

“The Tulsa race massacre was one of the largest single instances of state-sanctioned violence against Black people in American history, and the white mob and law enforcement officers who committed this act of domestic terrorism were never prosecuted or held accountable. With this resolution, we recommit to fight the racist violence against Black Americans often at the hands of the police and reverse the legacy of slavery and white supremacy in our country." 

A similar resolution recognizing the Tulsa Race Massacre’s 100th anniversary was introduced in the Senate by Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK). The resolution, known as S.Res.234, passed the Senate by voice vote.

The House did not take a standalone vote on this resolution before it adjourned for a three week recess from floor work. Instead, the House adopted this resolution as part of a rule that structured debate on bills to end a patent exemption for certain prescription drugs and condemn the mass shootings in Atlanta. Rule votes in the House typically break along party-lines because the minority party wants more amendments to be considered, and this rule was adopted by the House by a party-line 212-206 vote with the support of 99 Democratic House cosponsors. Its Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), has 25 Senate cosponsors, including 24 Democrats and one Independent, and has not yet received a committee vote.

This resolution is supported by a number of advocacy and historical groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Human Rights Watch, American Historical Association, and National Coalition for History.


Of Note: The Tulsa Race Massacre took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921. In it, mobs of White Tulsa residents, many of whom were deputized and given weapons by city officials, attacked Black residents and businesses in the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. An estimated 300 Black individuals were killed, and nearly 9,000 Black individuals were left homeless and penniless.

At a May 19, 2021, hearing on the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre considering possible legal remedies to compensate massacre survivors and their descendents, survivors of the massacre shared their childhood experiences and lives following the massacre. 107-year-old Viola Fletcher said that she lives through the massacre every day, only finished school through the fourth grade due to her family’s displacement by the massacre, and was a domestic worker for most of her life. Ms. Fletcher, who members of her community call “Mother Fletcher,” said:

“I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. "I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams. I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot. I will not, and other survivors do not. And our descendants do not… No one cared about us for almost 100 years. We and our history have been forgotten, washed away. This Congress must recognize us, and our history -- for Black America, for the white Americans and for all Americans.”

Ms. Fletcher’s 100-year-old brother, Hughes Van Ellis, said, “We are not asking for a handout… we are asking for justice.” Another survivor, Lessie Benningfield Randle, accused the city of Tulsa and local entities of fundraising and profiting off the massacre without permission or consideration to the survivors. She said, “they owe us something. They owe me something…my opportunities were taken from me.” Civil rights advocates also testified on systemic racism, reparations, and the role that local and state governments played in the massacre.

In 2020, Tulsa massacre survivors and their families filed a lawsuit demanding compensation for what they called the ongoing “public nuisance” that the massacre has inflicted on themselves and other families. The lawsuit does not specify a dollar amount sought by the plaintiffs, but asks the court to declare that a public nuisance created by the defendants in the suit can be abated “through the expenditure of money and labor.” The defendants in the suit include the City of Tulsa,  Tulsa Regional Chamber, Board of County Commissioners, Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, Tulsa County Sheriff and the Oklahoma Military Department.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Susan Vineyard)

AKA

Recognizing the forthcoming centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Official Title

Recognizing the forthcoming centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

simple resolution Progress


  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedMay 14th, 2021
    The fact that this sad event in our history has been so well hidden from so many, screams for a public acknowledgement and a resolution for the public congressional record condemning it. It will make it at little less easy for this to be hidden from history and shows that the Congress has at least some conscience regarding our country’s citizenry.
    Like (70)
    Follow
    Share
    @davidf's: Not sure what you mean by your question. In any case, let me make clear that I condemn any violent acts against anyone, whether it be in the past or in the present. While I do believe that we need to acknowledge and learn from our history, be it good or bad, I resent and do believe that the Democrats are using events such as this to further divide the races and I detest that they are using the black community to further their cause.
    Like (34)
    Follow
    Share
    Slave owners received $300 for every slave which was freed for reparations. They got to keep some of their wealth and pass it on to next generations. As soon as you talk about repairing harms to black people everyone wants to claim that it was part of the past and I didn't own any slaves and it was before my time. We have found a way to keep from repaying the wealth that was stolen from black people from lost wages as slaves, from the loss of real property and money from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, redlining and many other laws designed to keep blacks in a place that are not equal to other Americans. Now the Republicans are assuring us nationwide that they also don't want black voters to vote as they know they won't vote for them. Shameful and this will continue to go down as the dark history of America.
    Like (41)
    Follow
    Share
    Acknowledgment is the first step, if we really want to end racism. There are some who do not even know this horrific history. Please denounce this massacre. Please encourage curriculum developers to include it in books & lesson content. Begin the discussion of reparations for those families destroyed by this massacre.
    Like (27)
    Follow
    Share
    Denial and Avoidance are not solutions! Dear Representatives, We ask that you most strongly and actively support HR 398, “Recognizing the forthcoming centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.” Let this terrible event be officially acknowledged and, at long last, soundly condemned. Send a loud and clear message to the White Supremacist groups in our country and their supporters: Racism is not to be tolerated!
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    The fact that most Americans have never heard of this is the reason it needs to be acknowledged. American history continues to be taught in a shinning light. It’s time that Americans knew the dark side of our history too, so we do not repeat it. This is one tiny step forward, now to start talking and taking action about all the atrocities in American history that we swept under the rug or gussied up like prize pig in order to keep the myth of the infallible US of A alive.
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    Condemn hate and hate filled actions in general.
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    This is not about condemning sins of the past. This is intended to cause division today.
    Like (15)
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    The Democrats platform is to continue to give free stuff to black people. The only message they are sending is dems prey on their vulnerabilities and try to sympathize yet their policies don’t DO anything to rebuild or transform black businesses in Tulsa or everywhere for that matter. Dems want socialism so they can have a big government that controls everything. If they really cared they’d develop policies to promote private property, businesses, and a booming economy that the black communities once had before FDR ruined it with his New Deal policies and further deteriorated it by LBJ in the 1970s. I agree we should never forget our past and should acknowledge these horrible events but it should also be in truth that the dems are the evil party that continue to feed off society’s most vulnerable by giving empty promises to ultimately get to their goal of a socialist system and dictatorship.
    Like (12)
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    Let’s not make EVERYTHING about politics. The Tulsa attack was as based in racial Thuggery. Let’s keep it simple. Stop the Democratic vs Republican garbage. It was deeply wrong and unjust-Period. Give the survivors their due. Acknowledge it and repair it .
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    Freethinker, how dare you speak for me! I am a proud democrat and I am not a socialist! I believe that we have an obligation as human beings to help others that need our help. I don’t think that giving tax breaks to the rich while the poor go without is what is right never mind what god intended! We are only visitors on this earth and have to help each other realize our potential on this planet. Calling people names, spreading lies and putting our republic in jeopardy is the real evil.
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    This was a horrible incident that showed just how committed the systems and institutions in some states were to oppressing and eliminating black people entirely. The fact that many of us didn't even know about Tulsa for nearly a century just compounds the need to improve the way we teach history and honor ALL our heritage in this country, not just the preferred history of the white people in charge. We must condemn what happened in Tulsa, investigate fully how it was allowed to happen and how it was covered up, and find ways to honor the dead and provide restitution for the lost wealth of their descendants.
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    I applaud President Biden for not only recognizing the Tulsa Black Wall Street Massacre but by visiting Tulsa for the 100 year anniversary of that American atrocity. There were many more episodes of violence perpetrated against black Americans that remain “unreported”, mostly in the southeast area of our country but it occurred all over to some varying degrees.
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    If you don’t learn from the pass, you are Destin to repeat it. The conservatives right and religious right have rewritten books to hide the pass, to change the truth to their Lies and beliefs, plus enable the justification of abuse to other. To live a lie just because you don’t like the truth, is just lying to yourself, because in time the truth will come out, whether you like in or not. With more people have phones with cameras and technology, the lies are being exposed and the truth is coming out, whether it’s Jan 6, police officers or abuse of power. The truth is being recorded instantaneously everyday.
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    Condemnation alone is not enough. There must be reparations since there is no way to mete out justice.
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    @B.R., Freethinker, Carina, et. al.: After having read your comments I have to ask, What is your reason for wanting to continue the legacy of the Tulsa Massacre?
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    I think this is the least we can do. I think it ought to be included in all history books though. I hadn’t heard about it, but then again I never liked history in school. Now I appreciate our history much more.
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    reparations are needed. This was not an isolated incident.
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    I would also suggest that we mediately arrest Texas governor Abbet for insurrection and trying to start his own country within the United States of America for which he forgets he’s a part of. That is unless he doesn’t want to be a part of and he’d rather the United States declared war on Texas. Either way you look at it Greg Abbott is a complete and utter Relic of the past and a complete asshole.
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    This and many other massacres against people of color should be condemned!
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