TULSA, Okla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Members of Tulsa’s Greenwood community, including 107-year-old Massacre survivor Mother Viola Fletcher, will host a press conference today at 1:30 PM CST to discuss prominent Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission members’ support of racist House Bill 1775 and the way forward as the Centennial of the Massacre approaches.
On Friday, May 7, 2021, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 1775 into law, which outlaws the teaching of the truth about racism and discrimination against non-white people. In addition to Governor Stitt, who serves as a Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commissioner, supporting House Bill 1775, the bill was also vocally supported by Tulsa Mayor and Commissioner G.T. Bynum. Bynum, who is also a strong opponent of reparations to survivors and descendants stated that to him “it’s remarkable that this [HB 1775] is even a subject of controversy” and “I think the governor did the right thing…I don’t support the teaching of critical race theory in schools either.”
The Commission claims that it works on behalf of survivors while coddling powerful opponents of the truth about and reparations for the Massacre like Stitt and Bynum. The Commission has no association with Massacre survivors Fletcher, who just celebrated her 107th birthday, 106-year-old Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle, or 100-year-old Hughes Van Ellis. Additionally, the Commission did not allow any living survivor any input regarding the formation, membership or goals of the Commission when it was founded. The Commission has not discussed with survivors how they feel about the Commission’s false narratives that “Greenwood is Rising,” “Tulsa Triumphs” or that “Tulsa is leading America’s journey to racial healing,” while they still live in poverty because of the Massacre and its continued harm.
During the press conference attendees will make it clear that if the Commission and the City of Tulsa want to make some amends to Massacre survivors and descendants it will immediately agree to the following:
- An appropriate percentage of money raised for the Commission (over $30 million dollars) be distributed to survivors and descendants;
- A percentage of the ongoing revenue generated from the Greenwood Rising History Center go to the benefit of survivors and descendants;
- The majority of the board of the new Greenwood Rising History Center shall always be Massacre survivors and descendants to ensure that their voices are heard;
- Any other board members shall have a proven track record fighting for justice and equality for Massacre survivors and descendants and/or the Black community.
Expected speakers at the press conference include Teddi Williams, Descendant of Massacre survivor Wess Young and Ike Howard, Descendant and Grandson of Mother Fletcher.
On May 31, 1921, one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism in U.S. history completely decimated Tulsa’s thriving, all-Black community of Greenwood. A large white mob, including members of the Tulsa Police Department, the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department and the Oklahoma National Guard, as well as other city and county leaders, overwhelmed the approximately 40-square-block community, killing hundreds of Black residents, injuring thousands more, burning down over one thousand homes and businesses and stealing residents’ personal property.
Information on attending the press conference:
When: Tuesday May 11, 2021 1:30 PM CST
Where: The Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N. Greenwood Ave, Tulsa, Oklahoma
About the Justice for Greenwood Foundation
The Justice for Greenwood Foundation is a grassroots, 501(c)(3) organization with a big vision: to get Respect, Reparations, and Repair for the Greenwood community for the near century of historical omissions and continued harm caused by the 1921 Massacre, through innovative legal strategies, public education, and advocacy. J4G focus on identifying, locating, and providing a platform for the descendants of the survivors of the Massacre to share their and their ancestors’ stories. Our public education efforts will publicize these stories and educate about the Massacre and its ongoing impacts. Our advocacy efforts agitate for justice for survivors and descendants of those victimized by the Massacre and its continued harm. J4G supports strategies that bolster present-day Greenwood community and policies that deliver justice and pay reparations.