May 19 (UPI) — A 107-year-old survivor of the Tulsa, Okla., race massacre on Wednesday called for Congress to provide justice for the attack, saying she’s “never seen justice.”
Viola Fletcher testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which held a hearing on the 1921 attack on the Greenwood District. Two other survivors, her younger brother, Hughes Van Ellis, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, also spoke during the hearing.
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., who is chairman of the subcommittee, said the attack by a White mob killed 300 Black residents and destroyed more than 1,000 homes, businesses, churches and schools. Some experts say about 10,000 people were left homeless after the massacre.
“That mob fueled by racial fear and hatred was aided and abetted by some of the very government officials who were supposed to be protecting the innocent residents and property owners of Greenwood,” he said.
Fletcher said she was 7 years old when her parents woke her in the middle of the night to flee their home.
“I will never forget the violence of the White mob when we left our home,” she told the subcommittee. “I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams.”
Fletcher said that after her family left Tulsa, she lost her chance to have a full education and consequently “never made much money.”
“All the while the city of Tulsa have unjustly used the names and stories of victims, like me,” she said. “I am 107 years old and have never seen justice.
“I pray that one day I will. I have been blessed with a long life and have seen the best and worst of this country. I think about the horror inflicted upon Black people in this country every day.”