Statement of the Democrats Abroad Reparations Task Force on the 109th Birthday of Viola “Mother” Fletcher, survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

May 10, 2023

The Democrats Abroad Reparations Task Force extends heartfelt congratulations to Viola Fletcher, a survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre, on her 109th birthday. This year, our wish for Mother Fletcher is that she finally receive reparations for the horrors she experienced in 1921 and in every year since that justice has gone unserved.

The Tulsa Race Massacre, which took place over May 31-June 1, 1921, left the Greenwood District (“Black Wall Street”) devastated beyond recognition. White law enforcement officers and civilians tortured and murdered hundreds of Black residents, destroyed more than 1,000 buildings and homes, and dropped fire bombs on the community from U.S. military aircraft. Mother Fletcher was just seven years old at the time of the attack. She managed to survive by hiding under a pile of clothes in her home along with her mother and three siblings. After the massacre, her family was forced to flee Tulsa, having lost everything. 

There has been little action at the federal and local levels to compensate the Tulsa Race Massacre survivors and their descendants for the pain and deprivation they have endured over the years. Mother Fletcher – along with the two other living survivors, Lessie Benningfield Randle, 108, and Hughes Van Ellis, 102 – is fighting for justice in the courts with a public-nuisance lawsuit seeking reparations. Rather than acknowledge their role in the attack, the City of Tulsa and other defendants have repeatedly tried to get the case thrown out. Every day Mother Fletcher goes without justice is a further infringement upon her human rights and an affront to the dignity of all Black Americans.

Mother Fletcher’s story reminds us that racist incidents like the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre are not as far in the past as many would like us to believe, and that we can afford no further delays in the fight for reparative justice. We are encouraging Americans around the world to honor Mother Fletcher’s birthday by signing this petition, organized by our friends at Justice For Greenwood, to finally let the survivors and their families have their day in court.