Memoir of the oldest Tulsa Race Massacre witness released this week

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By TheGrio Staff

The oldest surviving witness to the Tulsa Race Massacre has become the oldest author in the United States following the release of her memoir this week.

Viola Ford Fletcher, 109, has released “Don’t Let Them Bury My Story,” which her grandson and co-author, Ike Howard, says took her a lifetime to write, Fox 23 News reported.

The book’s publication on May 30 coincides with the 102nd anniversary of the massacre, which resulted in the bloodiest instance of racial violence in American history, according to a press release from Send 2 Press.

“It’s about Viola Ford Fletcher,” Howard said, Fox 23 reported, noting that the book explores more than just the massacre, including “her thoughts about different things and different things that happened to our family and generation trauma as a result of the massacre.”

Send 2 Press asserts that in her memoir, the author, known as Mother Fletcher, walks readers through the experiences of a terrified 7-year-old girl forced to flee her burning neighborhood of Greenwood in the middle of the night and a 107-year-old family matriarch testifying before Congress 100 years later to the present day, where the search for justice for affected families continues.

Although Tulsa was a heavily segregated city in 1921, the 10,000 Black residents of the Greenwood neighborhood established a thriving commercial area known as Black Wall Street. However, instead of being an asset to generational wealth, the area fell victim to a white racist mob that descended on the community between late May and June 1 and burned more than 1,000 homes, hundreds more were looted and destroyed, and Black Wall Street was demolished.

The attack led to the deaths of hundreds of Black Greenwood residents. The survivors were forced into internment camps after losing thousands of loved ones and valuable property worth millions of dollars.

“I have lived through the massacre every day,” Fletcher said, according to the press release. “Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.”

Howard said the memoir took all these decades to write because survivors received a warning that if they talked about the massacre, people would kill them and their families, Fox 23 reported.

However, his grandmother is at peace sharing her story, he said, and believes this book will aid in the triumph of justice.

During the spring and summer of 2023, Howard will go on tour with his grandmother and her brother, Van Ellis, 102, whom he calls Uncle Red, who is also a survivor of the massacre and wrote the book’s foreword.

“We’re not our ancestors,” Howard asserted, Fox 23 reported. “I wish someone would cross the tracks with sticks and bats and guns. You’ll see a different result because we’re not having that. That won’t happen in 2023, but in her (Mother Fletcher’s) mind and his (Uncle Red’s) mind, it could. She knows more people that know the story will be accountable, so she wants accountability and justice.”

Image: Instagram/@vfffoundationghana