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GREENWOOD Dist.–A descendant of a famous doctor who was shot at point blank range during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has officially been denied the opportunity to reopen his ancestor’s estate following a ruling by a Tulsa judge on Tuesday, July 25.
Dr. Andrew Chesteen Jackson, one of the most nationally recognized Black surgeons who practiced on Black Wall Street, was killed by the city-sanctioned White mob on May 31, 1921. He held a medical practice on the land where the Greenwood Rising Museum now sits.
In January, after years of attempts by other relatives to reopen Dr. A.C. Jackson’s estate, his great-great nephew John Adams was appointed Special Administrator of the estate, according to court records.
Yet the Hille Foundation, a nonprofit organization that donated the land the Museum occupies now occupies, filed a motion to vacate the order less than a month later, claiming that John Adams doesn’t have the right to re-open the family estate.
Hille Foundation and Greenwood Rising fight against descendant’s effort to reopen Dr. A.C. Jackson’s estate
On March 20, both parties arrived in court, with John Adams being represented by civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons. Tulsa County District Judge Kurt G. Glassco heard oral arguments and ordered both parties to submit their facts by April 10.
“My family, myself, we take umbrage at the fact that folks who are not related to us are trying to prevent us from protecting the legacy of our great relative,” Adams told reporters immediately after the hearing.
Attorney Solomon-Simmons, who also represents the three last known living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre in their pursuit of restitution, accused the museum and the Hille Foundation of victimizing the families of massacre survivors by using their names and likeness without compensating their descendants.
“For the Hille Foundation and Greenwood Rising to attack them and say they don’t have a right to open the estate is appalling to John and his family,” attorney Solomon-Simmons said after the March 20 court hearing.
Tulsa Judge denies reopening of estate
A month later, on April 12, Judge Glassco quietly filed a written ruling supporting the Hille Foundation’s motion to vacate, removing Adams from the estate. Notably, the Greenwood Rising’s new director, who is Black, said he remains neutral on the issue of reparations in a previous interview with The Black Wall Street Times.
In his written order, in which he appeared to cast doubt on whether Adams is truly a descendant of Dr. Jackson, Judge Glassco said Adams did not sufficiently prove evidence of new claims to the estate and that the Hille Foundation is a qualified “interested” party.
“The order dated January 9, 2023 appointing John S. Adams as Special Administrator is hereby vacated and set aside. The Hille Family Charitable Foundation, and its successor, Greenwood Rising, Inc. are interested parties and timely filed their motion to Vacate the order appointing John S. Adams as Special Administrator for the Estate of A.C. Jackson. The request to reopen the Estate of A.C. Jackson is denied,” Judge Glassco ruled.
Weeks later, attorney Solomon-Simmons filed a motion to reconsider, but Judge Glassco denied that motion on Tuesday, July 25. The ruling comes weeks after Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall dismissed a lawsuit brought by Massacre survivors “Mother” Viola Ford Fletcher, 109, “Mother” Lessie Benningfield Randle, 108, and “Uncle” Hughes Van Ellis, 102, who were seeking restitution for the century-old racial domestic terrorist attack.
Hours after this article was first published, Greenwood Rising released a statement thanking the judge for dismissing the case.
“Greenwood Rising has been a defendant in two lawsuits filed by Damario Solomon-Simmons and, thankfully, both lawsuits have been dismissed,” the museum stated through a public relations firm. “Since opening in 2021, we have focused on our mission to educate and connect people through our shared history. Unfortunately, we have been sued twice – primarily related to our legal right to share the stories of our history and be a place of healing and learning for our community.”
The statement continues: “While we fully support descendants’ and survivors’ pursuit of restorative justice, the continued push to misuse our 501(c)(3) nonprofit history center as a financial vehicle for financial reparations is severely misplaced. We hope this inappropriate legal strategy is over for good now so we can focus on convening and collaborating with the community to move forward in racial healing and justice.”
Nationally recognized Black surgeon murdered in cold blood during Tulsa Race Massacre
During the Massacre, Dr. A.C. Jackson, according to the Victory of Greenwood, was shot with his hands in the air after surrendering to the White mob:
“They encountered Judge John Oliphant and a group of armed men in khaki uniforms. Dr. Jackson put his hands in the air, saying, “Here I am. Take me.” When the men raised their rifles, Judge Oliphant yelled, “Don’t shoot him! That’s Doctor Jackson!” The men didn’t listen and shot the doctor twice in the chest and once in the leg.”The Victory of Greenwood
“The foremost colored physician in the Southwest”
Dr. A.C. Jackson was a specialist in treating infectious diseases and served patients of all races. At 42 years old, as he raised his arms to surrender to the White mob on May 31, 1921, Dr. A.C. Jackson was shot dead in cold blood.
Yet during his short life, he proved the potential for any person to become successful regardless of skin color. His estate was opened after his death, but outside entities now own the land.
“He was the foremost colored physician in the Southwest and was held in high regard not only by members of his own race, but also by many prominent whites,” The Tulsa Daily World wrote days after the massacre, according to archives shared with the National Institutes of Health.
The National Medical Association, which has represented African American physicians since the late 1800s, recognized the huge loss Dr. Jackson’s death represented to the community. The NMA established a Tulsa Doctor’s Relief Fund immediately after the massacre.
Today, none of the funds earned by the $30 million Greenwood Rising Museum go directly to any survivors or descendants of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons has stated his intention to appeal the ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
The Black Wall Street Times has reached out to the Hille Foundation for comment.