June 17, 2024

Remaining Tulsa survivors receive $300K gift

Survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre will be gifted $100,000 each from the Justice for Greenwood Foundation on the heels of the 100-year commemoration. Mother Viola Fletcher, Mother Lessie Benningfield Randle and Hughes Van Ellis are the three recipients of the gift per a press release.

“This gift for the survivors of the Tulsa massacre shows that we have the power to demand justice for Black communities in Tulsa and all across the country,” said Damario Solomon Simmons, founder and executive director of Justice For Greenwood Foundation.

This comes after decades of communities calling for justice, reparations and proper acknowledgment in response to the Tulsa Race Massacre where angry white mobs murdered and terrorized hundreds of Black people and destroyed Greenwood’s thriving Black Wall Street.

The three survivors recently testified before Congress and shared their experiences.

“I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street, I still smell smoke and see fire,” Fletcher testified. “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.”

The 107-year-old said she can never forget this history as she testified on her first-time visit to Washington, D.C. 

Mother Viola Fletcher x Tulsa massacre survivor
Mother Viola Fletcher testifies to Congress on what she endured as a survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. (Photo: Jessica Floyd)

“We live this history and we can’t ignore it,” Fletcher said.We lost everything that day, our homes, our churches, our newspapers, our theaters, our lives.”

Fletcher’s younger brother Van Ellis echoed this message.

“We were left with nothing. We were made refugees in our own country,” said 100-year-old.

The survivors shared how they lived most of their lives in poverty and amplified their calls for justice throughout the years.

Justice for Greenwood Foundation supporters, Color Of Change members and fundraising efforts nationwide contributed to the gifts awarded to the survivors. 

Organizers call the move “an important step in the long overdue path toward justice and an act of resistance to the city’s continued efforts to erase Greenwood’s Black community and history,” while acknowledging that there’s still a lot of work to do. They hope it can provide some alleviation for the victims.

“We are immensely proud to play our role in rectifying these injustices,” Solomon Simmons said. “Nothing can undo the immense pain inflicted upon the remaining survivors of the massacre, but alleviating their current financial burdens inflicted not only by the massacre itself but subsequent systemic racism is the least we could do for them as we continue to push for reparations. Now, we must work to ensure their stories are told, confronting our past and learning from it, to ensure we actively challenge enduring injustices.”

Leading up to the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Color Of Change launched a campaign to “hold the city of Tulsa accountable for their failure to address one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history.”

More than 20,000 people have signed on in support.

“We cannot allow Tulsa’s leaders to champion their revisionist history and continue to exploit the very people affected by this national tragedy,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change. 

“Thanks to the leaders of the Justice for Greenwood Foundation, and so many others who continue to fight for reparations that are rightfully owed, this gift for the survivors of the Tulsa massacre shows that we have the power to demand justice for Black communities in Tulsa and all across the country.”

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