Survivors from the 1921 Tulsa race massacre will each receive $100,000 following the centennial.
A Tulsa-based nonprofit will give a monetary gift to the three surviving witnesses of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. In an article in the Washington Post, it was reported that Viola Fletcher, Lessie Benningfield Randle, and Hughes Van Ellis would each be given $100,000 as part of the centennial commemorations.
Foundation founder and executive director Damario Solomon Simmons said the donations demonstrate the foundation’s commitment to ensuring justice for Black communities in Tulsa and across the country.
It is “a significant step on the long-overdue path to justice” and “a show of resistance to Greenwood’s attempts to erase” its Black community.
As a result of experiencing the bloodshed 100 years ago, all three men have talked openly about their experiences to preserve the story.
He recalled when white men and boys were entrusted with the duty of setting the city on fire following rumors of a white girl being assaulted by a Black teen. Some of [the buildings] were set ablaze. It was some of them that they tore up,” she said. “I will never want to see another event like that again.”
In his memoir, Ellis noted how he served his country as a soldier, but upon returning home he realized his skin color would remain a hindrance to progress.
“In my home country, I did not find any of those freedoms I had fought for overseas. Even though freedom was ripped away from me at home, I fought for freedom overseas,” he said “Both my community and home were destroyed. As far as I am concerned, America will be able to resolve this conflict in the long run. In the aftermath of the war, I discovered this freedom I fought for overseas was no longer there. My skin color prevented me from getting GI Bill benefits like white servicemen.”
A highlight of the testimony was Fletcher’s testimony before House members on the continued fight for reparations. While Simmons recognizes that the $300,000 gift pales by comparison to the survivors’ desired compensation, she hopes it offers some comfort and hope.
He expressed his excitement about doing his part to correct these injustices. As we continue to call for reparations, we must alleviate the financial burdens left behind by not only the massacre itself but also systemic racism that followed the massacre. In order to ensure enduring injustices are actively challenged, we have to tell their stories, confront our past, and learn from it. Tulsa Race Massacre changed the course of American history forever. The Tulsa Race Massacre is a prime example of how America continues to struggle with systemic racism.