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Viola Fletcher, known as Mother Fletcher, was just seven years old when her family and community came under assault during the Tulsa Race Massacre. Today, she celebrates her 107th birthday. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, Mother Fletcher has persevered throughout a massacre, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Era, and the insurgency of White supremacy in the Oklahoma Legislature and Tulsa governments.
It is difficult to hear Mother Fletcher’s story without feeling deeply moved by it. It’s a story filled with love and triumph. But it’s also a story of great anguish and pain brought by the hands and hearts of racists. It is not a story that should make you feel warm and fuzzy. It’s a story of a strong Black woman navigating a world controlled by White Supremacy.
New law would silence Mother Fletcher’s history
These are the kinds of stories that we would never fully learn if the Oklahoma Legislature and Governor Kevin Stitt have their way. Systemic racism may feel like it’s straight from the ’50s, but it’s exceptionally sophisticated. It hides within every American system; education, healthcare, criminal legal rights, voting, broadband access, and on and on.
Recently, Stitt signed HB 1775 into law. HB 1775 was drafted by White Republicans to shield White children and adults from being taught about their privilege, sexism or how they may be unknowingly (or knowingly) upholding White Supremacy or bigotry. Stitt and company would prefer if children and adults were not educated on implicit bias or the truly dark history of America.
Mother Fletcher deserves justice
It is an especially reprehensible act of aggression in the year of the centennial anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Mother Fletcher’s life is not defined by the hate-fueled destruction of her community, but Oklahoma continues to be defined by it. Oklahoma continues to subvert responsibility, atonement and reparations for the crimes of its citizens and leaders.
It is past time for the Oklahoma legislature, governor, city councils and police departments to meet the rest of us in the 21st century. The Black Wall Street Times wishes Mother Fletcher a joy-filled day. What’s more, we wish for her to finally, after 100 years, see true justice served.