Rep. Regina Goodwin and Sen. Kevin Matthews both attend the same predominantly Black congregation, near where the 1921 mob violence occurred.
By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle
TULSA, Okla. — Two weeks after her 107th birthday, Viola Fletcher traveled to Washington, D.C., this month to tell a congressional subcommittee what happened to her as a little girl.
Fletcher, the oldest living survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre, described falling asleep in her family’s home in the Greenwood District — an affluent African American community known as “Black Wall Street.”
But the night of May 31, 1921, her peaceful slumber was cut short.
“I will never forget the violence of the White mob when we left our home,” Fletcher said in her first-ever visit to the nation’s capital. “I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still see smoke and smell fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams. I have lived through the massacre every day.”
Even 100 years later, Fletcher said, she still has not seen justice in an atrocity that claimed as many as 300 lives and destroyed thousands of homes, businesses and churches.
“I pray that one day I will,” she said.
State Rep. Regina Goodwin, a Democrat from Tulsa and a longtime member of Churches of Christ, testified via video at the same hearing as Fletcher and two other survivors: 106-year-old Lessie Benningfield Randle and 100-year-old Hughes Van Ellis, Fletcher’s brother.
“I have the pleasure of knowing these folks and knowing that they are indeed deserving of justice,” said Goodwin, 58, whose late grandfather and great-grandparents lived through the massacre.
This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.