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Unknown victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre honored

by The Black Wall Street Times

One hundred years from the day the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre began, the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival (Legacy Fest), in collaboration with the Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition and the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), held its final soil collection to honor the remaining unknown victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) will also perform a special dedication to 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre survivor and World War II Veteran, Mr. Hughes Van Ellis.

Honor Tulsa Race Massacre Van Hughes Ellis "Uncle Red"

100-year-old Van Hughes Ellis, a 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre survivor, honored by U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee. (Christopher Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)

In 1921, the most preeminent Black community in the history of the United States was destroyed in a brutal, racist terror attack. Black Wall Street/Historic Greenwood was home to more than 10,000 Black Tulsans and hundreds of businesses; including hotels, movie theaters, restaurants and offices.

This thriving hub of Black entrepreneurship was bombed and burned to the ground over the course of just days between May 31 and June 2, 1921 as scores of white mobsters came from the southern part of the city in trucks and airplanes, leveling everything in sight. More than 300 Black residents of Greenwood lost their lives in the attack. To this day, 100 years after the massacre began, no justice has been served for those who perished, the survivors or their descendants.

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Honoring unnamed ancestors, massacre victims

Over the course of the past two years, the Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition has also worked alongside the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama 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 Massacre lynching victim. Today, on the 100th anniversary of the massacre, the coalition and the EJI hosted the final soil collection event.

This solemn, public, Memorial Day event honored survivors and descendants of the massacre who honorably served this nation’s military.

Honor Tulsa Race Massacre

The final soil collection ceremony honoring the unknown names of Tulsa Race Massacre victims. (Photo by Christopher Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)

Today’s event included several special guests, including US Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), distinguished Tulsans, members of the Equal Justice Initiative, members of the Human Rights Watch, members of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Oklahoma National Guard and others.

As we reach the 100 anniversary of the darkest day in Tulsa’s history, the Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition thanks all those who have taken part in moving this process of preserving history and fighting for true justice forward. In the wake of a powerful and profound weekend commemorating the legacy of Greenwood and Black Wall Street, the coalition continues to uplift and amplify the lives of those lost in this ongoing pursuit for real and meaningful justice.

Honor Tulsa Race Massacre

Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee speaks at the soil collection ceremony honoring unknown victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre. (Christopher Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)

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