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  • Writer's pictureThe Dayton Weekly News

Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors Granted Ghanaian Citizenship

Hughes Van Ellis and Viola Fleetcher | Getty Images

Two of the last three survivors of the 1921 Tulsa massacre on “Black Wall Street” have been granted Ghanaian citizenship, according to reports.

Viola Fletcher, 108, and her brother, Hughes Van Ellis, 102, were granted citizenship to the West African nation Tuesday at a ceremony that took place at Ghana's embassy in Washington D.C., according to BBC.

The siblings will become dual citizens, citing comments made at the ceremony by Hajia Alima Mahama, Ghana's U.S. ambassador, according to The Washington Post.

“I feel like a king,” Hughes Van Ellis said after declaring his duel citizenship Tuesday. “It is an honor and privilege to be a member of Ghana.”

Viola Fletcher may have only been a little girl, but she will never forget what happened from May 31 to June 1, 1921, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

On May 31, 1921, white groups overtook an area of Tulsa, known as Greenwood, which was lauded for its prosperous Black businesses and often called the Black Wall Street. The massacre began after a Black teen, Dick Rowland, got onto an elevator with a white elevator operator, Sarah Page, at the Drexel building in the city. Rowland was accused of rape. During the 18-hour span, the white mob attacked residents' homes and businesses, killing hundreds of people and leaving thousands homeless. It was deemed one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history.

The Justice for Greenwood Foundation, which works with survivors of the massacre and their descendants, said the siblings are the oldest African-Americans to be granted citizenship of Ghana, according to BBC.

The foundation said in a statement to BBC that they were "proud to stand in solidarity with the survivors, celebrating their resilience and their contribution to the history" of Black Oklahoma.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the massacre, the siblings traveled to the West African nation in 2021 after being invited by the Ghananian President Nana Akufo-Addo.

In 2019, Akufo-Addo had issued an invitation to members of the African diaspora to visit Ghana to mark the “Year of Return,” commemorating 400 years since the first Africans arrived in the Virginia colony.

“This country is your country, and anyone who wants to come to reestablish, connect with us here, is welcome,” Akufo-Addo said in 2021.

Ghana was a key transportation port that brought slaves across the Atlantic.

Akufo-Addo said his country felt a responsibility to welcome all those who could trace their ancestry to Africa.


By Inside Edition Staff First Published: 1:41 PM PST, March 2, 2023

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