On May 31 and June 1, 1921, a white mob looted and burned the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The mob murdered hundreds of Black people and destroyed more than 1,200 homes.
On Tuesday — 100 years after that horrific massacre — Joe Biden became the first president to participate in a remembrance of what became known as the Tulsa Race Massacre.
“My fellow Americans, this was not a riot,” Biden said in a speech from Tulsa on Tuesday. “This was a massacre.”
Biden told the crowd, “The events we speak of today took place 100 years ago, and yet I’m the first president in 100 years ever to come to Tulsa. I say that not as a compliment about me, but to think about it. Hundred years, and the first president to be here during that entire time, and in this place, in this ground to acknowledge the truth of what took place here.”
He continued on, saying, “For much too long the history of what took place here was told in silence. Cloaked in darkness, but just because history is silent, it doesn’t mean that it did not take place. And while darkness can hide much, it erases nothing. It erases nothing. Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous they can’t be buried no matter how hard people try. And so it is here, only, only with truth, can come healing and justice and repair, only with truth, facing it, but that isn’t enough.”
It was a powerful speech at a time when the country is going through more racial reckoning. But this wasn’t just a speech about the nightmare 100 years ago, but the racial injustices that remain as strong as ever today.
Biden announced several plans meant to reduce the racial wealth gap. CNN’s Kate Sullivan and Maegan Vazquez wrote, “The President announced that he will use federal purchasing power to grow federal contracting with small, disadvantaged businesses — many of them minority owned — by 50%. The White House said this will translate to an additional $100 billion over five years.”
But in what might be the most pivotal announcement, Biden said Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the administration’s efforts on voting rights or, to put it more accurately, the fight against voter suppression laws.
“This sacred right is under assault with incredible intensity like I’ve never seen,” Biden said.
Harris told CNN in a statement, “President Joe Biden asked me to help lead our Administration’s effort to protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans. In the days and weeks ahead, I will engage the American people, and I will work with voting rights organizations, community organizations, and the private sector to help strengthen and uplift efforts on voting rights nationwide. And we will also work with members of Congress to help advance these bills. … The work ahead of us is to make voting accessible to all American voters, and to make sure every vote is counted through a free, fair, and transparent process. This is the work of democracy.”
Jonathan Capehart of MSNBC and The Washington Post tweeted, “For y’all who don’t think the hair is on fire at the White House over the assault on voting rights, President Biden’s lengthy comments on the assault on voting rights should disabuse you of that…..”
Look for this fight between Democrats and Republicans over voting rights to be front and center for quite some time, and for Tuesday’s speech to be remembered just as long.
This week is the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre. Here is some of the notable coverage:
- In The Washington Post, DeNeen L. Brown with “In Tulsa, solemn remembrances of a century-old race massacre by survivors and descendants.”
- Also from DeNeen L. Brown in the Post: “His arrest sparked the Tulsa Race Massacre. Then Dick Rowland disappeared.”
- For Politico, Eugene Daniels with “Her great-grandmother survived the Tulsa Race Massacre. She wants Biden to embrace reparations.”
- The Tulsa World’s coverage can be found here.
- On Slate.com, Lawrence Ware with “Hollywood Is Still Failing to Tell One of Black America’s Most Horrifying Stories.”
- I’ve already linked to this twice in previous newsletters, but will again because it simply is that good: The New York Times’ “What the Tulsa Race Massacre Destroyed.”
- Finally, The Washington Post’s Gillian Brockell with “Tulsa isn’t the only race massacre you were never taught in school. Here are others.”
More thoughts on Osaka and sports press conferences
There is still plenty of talk surrounding Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from tennis’ French Open in a dispute over press conferences. Osaka, the No. 2-ranked women’s player in the world, said she suffers from anxiety and public speaking, and that answering questions in press conferences negatively impacts her mental health.
I have no doubt that Osaka suffers from anxiety and you cannot help but feel sympathy for her. The French Open essentially running her out of the tournament was cold, disrespectful and inexcusable.
But the larger question that has emerged is the value of press conferences, particularly in sports. Many dismiss post-game press conferences as being full of mindless and/or insulting questions.
The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew wrote, “And so the modern press conference is no longer a meaningful exchange but really a lowest‑common‑denominator transaction: a cynical and often predatory game in which the object is to mine as much content from the subject as possible. Gossip: good. Anger: good. Feuds: good. Tears: good. Personal tragedy: good. Meanwhile the young athlete, often still caught up in the emotions of victory or defeat, is expected to answer the most intimate questions in the least intimate setting, in front of an array of strangers and backed by a piece of sponsored cardboard.”
Liew is not entirely wrong here, but I also believe that it’s an exaggerated description of a typical press conference. Yes, there are occasionally insensitive questions. Yes, sometimes questions are repeated, or make little sense, or aren’t even questions as much as they are statements. But the overwhelming majority of sports journalists ask respectful and relevant questions, and the overwhelming majority of athletes attend press conferences and answer questions without incident or issues. I speak from experience, having been in literally thousands of sports press conferences across all sports.
Now, one area I have very little experience with as a sports journalist is tennis press conferences, and from what I’ve witnessed as a viewer, it does appear that the international tennis media is a different animal that doesn’t mind controversy.
But, I’m not buying this idea that the sports media is evil. Are there bad apples? Yes, like in any profession. Does that make all sports media bad? No, absolutely not.
We should not dismiss Osaka’s concerns, which are legitimate and critical. We also need to examine how female athletes and athletes of color are treated by the media. A group of thoughtful athletes, sports league executives and media types need to talk about how to make the experience less harmful for athletes, more effective for leagues and more productive for journalists.
But I also don’t believe what is happening with Osaka is evidence that the sports press conference is broken and needs to be overhauled.
In a thoughtful and measured column for Deadspin, Jane McManus wrote, “The press is often a convenient foil, but we can respect Osaka’s concern for her own peace of mind without heaping blame on the messenger. This just might be a story where we can assign a hero, without ascribing a villain.”
One more column on this in case you’re interested. It’s long, but thought-provoking. It’s The Undefeated’s Clinton Yates with “Tennis world needs to check itself after Naomi Osaka pulls out of French Open.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist joins USA Today
Connie Schultz has been hired to write a weekly column for USA Today. Schultz won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 in the commentary category for her columns in The Plain Dealer. She was a Pulitzer finalist in feature writing in 2003 for a story about a wrongly convicted man.
Schultz also has written books, including “The Daughters of Erietown,” which was released in paperback on Tuesday. Schultz is married to Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Schultz told USA Today’s Kristen DelGuzzi, “One of the best parts of being a columnist is the relationship you build with readers. As a columnist for USA TODAY and its Network, I have the chance to engage with thoughtful readers across the country. We have so much to talk about, always. I look forward to those conversations.”
Her first column will be published this week.
Life Out Loud
ABC News kicked off Pride Month Tuesday with the two-episode premiere of its first LGBTQ+ podcast called “Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson.” ABC News describes it as Granderson drawing on his own life experiences as a “gay, Black father to host inspiring, provocative and often hilarious conversations to help preserve the history of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Aside from his work at ABC News, Granderson is an ESPN Radio host and an op-ed columnist for The Los Angeles Times. In a statement, he said, “We lost so many stories to the AIDS epidemic, violence, harassment and silence due to fear. I’m passionate about creating a space to capture these underreported stories and untold oral histories, while also celebrating the joys of living ‘life out loud’ and where we’re going as a community.”
The podcast’s third episode posts this Thursday and features an interview with musician Rufus Wainwright ahead of his tribute to Judy Garland on what would have been her 99th birthday. Additional episodes of the 10-episode season will drop each Thursday. Future guests include Dr. Anthony Fauci talking about AIDS, actress and comedian Sherry Cola, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson and Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black and husband Tom Daley, an Olympic medal winner.
NBC’s Pride coverage
NBC News has special Pride coverage planned throughout June on all platforms, including the “Today” show, “NBC Nightly News” and “Meet the Press,” as well as MSNBC and NBC News NOW.
Some of the expected coverage includes the “Today” show looking at the first gay married couple in the U.S., “Saturday Night Live’s” Bowen Yang talking about coming out; on “NBC Nightly News,” Kate Snow reporting on families with transgender children who have been forced to relocate because of restrictive transgender laws; and on “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd will explore the evolution of public and political support for the LGBTQ community and how it has changed over the years.
That’s just a small portion of NBC News’ coverage this month.
The year that was
On Tuesday, CNN debuted “2020 In Our Words” — a digital series with a behind-the-scenes look at how CNN covered the global pandemic and did so, for the most part, remotely. Journalists and staff at CNN reveal what it was like to report the story in real time in this nine-part series. It includes the origins of COVID-19 to the March shutdowns to the race to find a vaccine, to rolling out the vaccinations.
In an introduction to the series, CNN president Jeff Zucker said, “What made the coverage of the pandemic so unusual is that we were reporting on it while we were also living it. Not only did we bear witness to how millions of people were coping and surviving, we were forced to do the same. We, too, had families — parents, children, spouses — with all the same health concerns and fears that were the focus of our work. At the same time, history was being made in an election year like this country had never seen before, which came on the heels of a summer of racial reckoning in America that changed us forever. Quite simply, the news never stops.”
The series is available on CNN Digital properties to registered users. The first chapter will be accessible on CNN.com without registration on June 15, and the full series in September 2021.
- The Assembly’s John Drescher with “Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Mega-Donor, and the Future of Journalism.”
- CNBC’s Alex Sherman with “Here are the next media mergers that make the most sense.”
- Former ESPN and Fox Sports executive Jamie Horowitz has been named vice president for development and digital for the WWE. He also will run WWE Studios, which is producing a Netflix docuseries about Vince McMahon. Deadline’s Jill Goldsmith has more details, as does Awful Announcing’s Ian Casselberry.
- Brian Custer is joining ESPN as an anchor for “SportsCenter” and a play-by-play announcer on college football and basketball. Custer goes to ESPN from Fox Sports, where he had called boxing and college football and basketball since 2014. He has worked in local markets, too, including Columbus, Ohio; Dallas and New York. Even though he is joining ESPN, Custer will continue to host Showtime Championship Boxing.
- How’s this for a full circle? Legendary NBA announcer Marv Albert, who got his start calling New York Knicks games, will call tonight’s Knicks-Hawks game from Madison Square Garden. Albert announced he is retiring after the playoffs. USA Today’s Mark Medina has a Q&A with Albert about tonight’s game and why he is retiring.
- The Washington Post has debuted “Voices Across America.” It’s a new platform from Post Opinions featuring writers from across the country.
- The New York Times’ Ali Watkins with “How a Police Chief in Wyoming’s Ranchlands Lost Her War on Drugs.”
- CNN’s Kent Sepkowitz with “Haunting lessons from 40 years of fighting AIDS.”
- USA Today TV critic Kelly Lawler with “The best and worst ‘Jeopardy!’ guest hosts, from Mayim Bialik to Buzzy Cohen.”
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