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Viola Ford Fletcher, known by the community as “Mother Fletcher” and the oldest living survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre, turned 108 on Tuesday.
Surrounded by the other two living survivors of the massacre, “Uncle Redd” Hughes Van Ellis (101) and Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle (107), Mother Fletcher was showered with love as a church sanctuary full of Greenwood supporters sang her happy birthday on Sunday, May 1st, the night before the historic court hearing in the Justice for Greenwood lawsuit.
Mother Fletcher One Step Closer to Justice
Sitting in a packed courtroom alongside “mother” Lessie Benningfield Randle and “Uncle” Hughes Van Ellis Redd, Mother Fletcher was able to witness the historic ruling in the Justice for Greenwood lawsuit, which will force for the first time in 101 years, the City of Tulsa and other entities to take the stand and defend their role in the destruction of businesses, homes, and death of over 300 Black men, women, and children.
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.
The ruling from Judge Caroline Wall allowing the Justice for Greenwood lawsuit to move forward brings Greenwood closer to restitution than any time within the last century. It also gives the three remaining survivors an opportunity to see some semblance of justice for what took place over 100 years ago.
“I will never forget the violence of the White mob when we left our home,” Mother Fletcher testified to Congress in 2021. “I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street, I still smell smoke and see fire.”