Two of the three 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre survivors were granted Ghana citizenships in February 2023, Just for Greenwood Foundation, Inc announced.
In a Facebook post, the Foundation announced that 109-year-old Viola Ford Fletcher, “Mother Fletcher,” and her brother, 102-year-old Hughes Van Ellis, became the oldest African Americans to obtain citizenships of the Republic of Ghana.
The Ghana Tourism Authority, government officials and the Diaspora African Forum founder, H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, organized a ceremony to celebrate their new citizenship.
“The Justice for Greenwood Foundation was proud to stand in solidarity with the survivors, celebrating their resilience and their contribution to the history of Black Oklahoma,” the organization’s Facebook post read.
On May 31, 1921, Fletcher and her brother, Ellis’ lives changed when an angry and jealous white mob, including the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department, National Guard and other city officials, stormed Black Wall Street, killing hundreds of residents and burning hundreds of businesses and homes.
Afraid they’d lose their lives, Fletcher, Ellis and their family fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
The massacre stole her chances of successfully finishing the fourth grade. And because she didn’t have the proper education, she took on jobs that barely paid and lived an impoverished life.
The racial attack caused emotional, physical and mental distress to her and her family, who didn’t have the necessary resources to obtain support.
A World War II combat veteran, Ellis barely made a livable wage to afford necessities.
Fletcher, Ellis, survivor Lessie Benningfield Randle, 108, among others like the Tulsa African Ancestral Society, filed a lawsuit in 2020 against the city of Tulsa and other government organizations that claimed the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was a public nuisance under Oklahoma Law.
In the courtroom, Fletcher recalled and could explain everything she witnessed the night of the massacre.
“The night of the massacre, I was awakened by my family. My parents and five siblings were there. I was told we had to leave, and that was it. I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left her home,” she 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.”
However, the judge dismissed the case because they basically didn’t feel it was right to punish the current Tulsa citizens even though the city failed the Tulsa Massacre survivors and victims, News Onyx reported.
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