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“You have turned your pain into purpose”: Biden pens personal letter to Tulsa community leader

by Nate Morris

“No one should ever know the pain of losing a loved one,” Joe Biden wrote. “You have turned your pain into purpose. You are your brother Terence’s keeper, and your work will continue to change lives.”

The president’s letter to Dr. Tiffany Crutcher is the latest show of solidarity between the White House and organizing efforts in Tulsa.

“You could tell it was personal,” Dr. Crutcher said of the letter. “It wasn’t a cookie-cutter response.”

The letter arrived roughly a month after President Biden visited the Greenwood Cultural Center to commemorate the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.  He was the first sitting president to ever publicly acknowledge the horrors of the attack.

Prior to entering the main hall to speak to community members gathered inside, the President was greeted by Dr. Crutcher and her father, Reverend Joey Crutcher.  The trio shared heartfelt words of pain and remembrance as Dr. Crutcher also pushed the President to enact meaningful policy reforms like reparations.

“It meant so much to me and my father to be able to welcome one of the most powerful men in the world,” Dr. Crutcher said. “It’s been our fight and our promise to not rest until the leaders heard us.”

“This happened because of the rallying cry of the community”

Earlier in May, she and a team of advocates with Justice for Greenwood accompanied survivors to Washington, D.C. as they testified before congress. Following their testimony, the group met with Vice President Kamala Harris and other White House officials in a push for reparative policy.

Crutcher said she and the president’s team are in the midst of scheduling a call to debrief their visit and discuss next steps. The White House has pledged its commitment to “continue the effort of rebuilding Greenwood and Black Wall Street.”

While the letter itself was addressed to Dr. Crutcher, she was quick to give credit to the community for ensuring the story of Greenwood does not remain hidden. 

“This happened because of the rallying cry of the community,” she said. “So many people have been doing this hard work for so long. Together, we decided that we would no longer allow our stories to be buried.”

In his letter, Biden said that the tour of the Greenwood Cultural Center “allowed me to witness this living reminder of not only the talent and hard work of Black Americans, but also the fear and devastation that continue to plague the Black community today.”

“Our country has made progress since the horrific massacre 100 years ago,” the President wrote. “But we still have a long way to go.”

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