Two survivors of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre become citizens of Ghana, foundation says


(NEW YORK) — Two survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre became Ghanaian citizens, the Justice for Greenwood Foundation, Inc. announced on Tuesday.

Viola Ford Fletcher, 108, and Hughes Van Ellis, 102, are the oldest African Americans to be granted citizenship in Ghana.

“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 wrote on Facebook.

A mob of white vigilantes destroyed Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood, known at the time as “Black Wall Street” due to its wealth and successful business enterprises, in 1921. The racist violence killed at least 300 people, wounded thousands and destroyed some 35 acres of commercial and residential property.

Fletcher and Ellis are two of three living survivors, with Fletcher being the oldest living survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Ellis and Fletcher, alongside the third survivor Lessie Benningfield Randle, sued Tulsa and the local government in 2021 for a reparations fund.

In May, an Oklahoma judge ruled that the lawsuit could move forward.

Some officials are hesitant to pay monetary reparations to the victims and their families seeking restitution.

“I am not opposed to cash payments to descendants and the victims. It’s where the money comes from that for me is important,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, who led the effort to help find missing Tulsa victims, told ABC News last year, before adding that he is ”opposed to levying a tax on this generation of Tulsans who are at no fault.”

Fletcher told ABC News last year that she and her family never returned to Tulsa after they fled the night of May 31, 1921. Her home had been ravaged by fire, leaving her and hundreds of others without any of their possessions and livelihoods.

“There wasn’t anything to come back to,” she told ABC News last year.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.