Despite facing a significant setback, the survivors and descendants affected by the 1921 Tulsa Race massacre are continuing their relentless pursuit of reparations. In recent developments, the group has submitted an appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, urging a thorough reevaluation of their case.
In the previous month, an Oklahoma judge dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of the last three survivors of the massacre. These brave individuals sought reparations for the crimes committed against them and the lasting damage endured by their descendants. The ruling made by Tulsa County District Court Judge, Caroline Wall, favored the defense’s argument that it was challenging to prove personalized harm. This verdict contradicted known evidence, such as the looting and destruction of survivor Lessie E. Benningfield Randle’s family home during the massacre.
The tragic events of the Tulsa Race Massacre unfolded during the summer of 1921, when white rioters, with assistance from city and state authorities, ravaged and burned down the prosperous Black community known as the Greenwood District or “Black Wall Street.” The entire district was decimated. This horrifying event resulted in an estimated 800 injuries and 300 deaths. While the story of the Tulsa Massacre was largely erased from history, its devastating aftermath continues to haunt the survivors and their families.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, civil rights attorney and founder of the Justice for Greenwood Foundation, emphasized, “We owe our progress to the sacrifices of countless individuals – the thousands who endured the massacre and the hundreds who have been fighting for justice ever since.” Their fight for justice has persisted for generations.
Although the victims of the Tulsa Massacre did receive some relief when philanthropist Ed Mitzen donated $1 million to the survivors last year, many argue that the true responsibility lies with the city of Tulsa itself, as it played a role in enabling the massacre to occur. True reparations, according to numerous voices, should come from the city as a form of acknowledgment and restitution.