The month of March 2021 marks 100 years since the tragic Tulsa Race Massacre in Oklahoma. In two days, around 300 residents of the predominately-Black neighborhood of Greenwood were killed, while 10,000 more were displaced due to firebombing. On Wednesday, three living survivors of the bombings–Viola Fletcher, her brother Hughes Van Ellis, and Lessie Benningfield Randle–testified before a House Judiciary Subcommittee about their experiences. Watch the full testimony below.
“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. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams,” Fletcher said. “I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.”
Fletcher, van Ellis, and Randle are plaintiffs in a reparations lawsuit from 2020. The three argue that the state of Oklahoma and Tulsa are responsible for the horrific events.
“I am 107 years old and I have never … seen justice. I pray that one day I will,” Fletcher continued. “I have been blessed with a long life and have seen the best and the worst of this country. I think about the terror inflicted upon black people in this country every day.”
“You may have been taught that when something is stolen from you, you would go to the courts to be made whole,” he said. “That wasn’t the case for us. We were made to feel that our struggle was unworthy of justice, that we were less than the whites, that we weren’t fully Americans. We were shown that in the United States, not all men were equal under the law. We were shown that when Black voices called out for justice, no one cared.”
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