Viola Fletcher, 107, is believed to be the oldest survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Oklahoma, according to Tulsa World. Two weeks ago she celebrated her birthday. CBS News reported that on Wednesday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties heard testimony from three centenarians about a violent mob’s riot 100 years ago. They destroyed the thriving Tulsa neighborhood of Greenwood, then known as “Black Wall Street.” Fletcher said she came to Washington, D.C., for the first time in her life to seek justice about the matter.
“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,” Viola Fletcher, said in the CBS News video. “I have lived through the massacre every day.”
Fletcher said she can barely afford her everyday needs. She informed the subcommittee that everything was lost that day when the Tulsa Race Massacre occurred, including homes and churches in Greenwood. Most of her life, Fletcher said that she worked as a domestic worker serving white families.
“This Congress must recognize us and our history…,” Fletcher said.
CNN reported that Fletcher’s 100-year-old brother, Hughes Van Ellis, in addition to Lessie Benningfield Randle also appeared before the House Judiciary subcommittee.
“We’re not asking for a handout. All we are asking for is for a chance to be treated like a first-class citizen who truly is a beneficiary of the promise that this is a land where there is ‘liberty and justice for all,” Van Ellis said, according to CNN. “We are asking for justice for a lifetime of ongoing harm. Harm that was caused by the massacre.”
Justice For Greenwood previously explained that “the match to the fuel of racial resentment that was lit on the morning of May 31, 1921,” when a White mob attacked the Greenwood district of Tulsa. Additionally, Justice For Greenwood said that nearly 100 years after the massacre, 11 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the City of Tulsa and six other defendants demanding accountability and restitution for continued harm.