Congress Hears from Survivors of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Washington, D.C. – (Wednesday, May 19, 2021) – It was 100 years ago this month that  a white mob came to Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma and disseminated the Black community there, known as “Black Wall Street.”  Hundreds of Black people were killed, scores of homes and businesses were torched, and thousands were left homeless.

A century later survivors of that massacre are still seeking justice.  107-year-old Viola Fletcher was just 7-years-old at the time.  Today, she recalled the horror, telling Capitol Hill lawmakers about the violence, fires, and screams.  “I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home.  I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street.  I still smell smoke and see fire.”

Fletcher told a House Judiciary Subcommittee Wednesday that at 107-years-old she still has not seen justice.  But she prays someday that she will.  Fletcher, along with her 100-year-old brother Hughes Vann Ellis and another survivor 106-year-old Lessie Benningfield Randle, appeared before the subcommittee to push for reparations for what is believed to be the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.

The three are plaintiffs in  a reparations lawsuit filed last year, arguing that the state of Oklahoma and the city of Tulsa are responsible for what happened during that two day massacre on May 31st and June 1st 1921.

“Please do not let me leave this earth without justice, like all the other massacre survivors,” said Vann Ellis as he concluded his testimony.