TULSA, Okla. — In partnership with the Community Remembrance Coalition and Equal Justice Initiative, the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival (Legacy Fest) hosted the closing remembrance and final soil collection ceremony to commemorate the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s historic Greenwood neighborhood and honor the survivors in attendance, Mother Fletcher and Hughes Van Ellis. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) performed a special dedication for Hughes Van Ellis, one of the last living survivors of the massacre and a World War II veteran.
Justice for Greenwood also hosted a town hall focused on the survivors and descendants of the massacre and their continued fight for justice, accountability, and reparations. The descendants gave an update about the status of their lawsuit and pushed for comprehensive reparations.
Over the course of the past two years, the Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition has worked alongside the Equal Justice Initiative to honor the history and the lives of this sacred land through a series of soil collections. Each soil collection serves to memorialize the life of a 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre lynching victim.
Today’s ceremony, on the 100th anniversary of the massacre, was the final soil collection event. All attendees were invited to pour soil from the ground into jars to honor the documented unknowns from the race massacre in a very emotional ceremony. Nearly every attendee was moved to tears.
The remembrance ceremony also honored the survivors and descendants of the massacre who honorably served our nation’s military in recognition of Memorial Day. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) performed a special dedication for Hughes Van Ellis, one of the last living survivors of the massacre and a World War II veteran. Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04), who recently introduced the Tulsa-Greenwood Massacre Claims Accountability Act, was also in attendance.
Major General Michael Thompson, the first Black Adjutant General to serve in the Oklahoma’s state National Guard, said that he was inspired by Hughes Van Ellis and his resilience and perseverance to serve in the U.S. Army and his country following the massacre.