State Supreme Court to Decide Reparations

State Supreme Court to Decide Reparations

The Oklahoma State Supreme Court is set to hear arguments April 2 relating to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and could issue a decision on reparations to the victims.

KOCO-TV in Oklahoma reported that the state’s Supreme Court announced that it would allow Lessie Benningfield Randle and Viola Fletcher, two survivors of the massacre, to argue their case for reparations. The two survivors, both 109 years old, previously filed a lawsuit for public nuisance in connection to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

“We are grateful that our now-weary bodies have held on long enough to witness an America, and an Oklahoma, that provides Race Massacre survivors with the opportunity to access the legal system,” Randle and Fletcher said in a joint statement provided to Newsweek. “Many have come before us who have knocked and banged on the courthouse doors only to be turned around or never let through the door.”

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Survivors Lessie Benningfield Randle, Viola Fletcher, and late Hughes Van Ellis at the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre on June 01, 2021, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. May 31st of this year marks the centennial…

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The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre resulted in the deaths of 300 individuals and the displacement of thousands of Black residents in the city. Tulsa was known at the time for its thriving African American community in the Greenwood District where Black professionals ran multiple businesses. Because the business district was booming and thriving, it was often referred to as the Black Wall Street.

Last July, a district judge in Tulsa dismissed the lawsuit filed by the survivors, prompting an appeal from an attorney for the survivors.

While speaking at an event hosted by the Cleveland County Republican Party, Oklahoma’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters said in July that race was not a main factor in the 1921 incident.

“It doesn’t matter how much the radical left attacks me. It doesn’t matter how much the teachers union spends against me. I will never stop speaking truth,” Walters said. “Let’s not tie it to the skin color and say that the skin color determined that.”

In a statement to Newsweek, Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, who represents some of the victims, responded to Walters comments saying “The massacre was all about the skin color of the Black people who were destroyed. The [white mob] call Greenwood N-word town. They said they wanted to run the Blacks out of Tulsa.”

“He said he doesn’t want anyone to feel bad for what occurred because of their skin color, but what he’s really saying is he doesn’t want the children of Oklahoma to have humanity,” Solomon-Simmons added in his statement to Newsweek.

However, in August, lawyers for the survivors appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit and brought the case to the state’s highest court.

“If Supreme Court upholds their constitutional duty, their oath, looks at the law, there’s only one decision that can be made,” Solomon-Simmons told KOCO-TV in August.

On Tuesday, Solomon-Simmons’s office directed Newsweek to a statement issued ahead of the Supreme Court hearing.

“It breaks my heart that even after suffering through a state-sponsored atrocity and its demoralizing aftermath, the last two Tulsa Race Massacre survivors are devoting the fleeting time they have left to a battle that the defendants hope will break their spirits,” Solomon-Simmons said in the statement.

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The Black Wall Street Massacre memorial June 18, 2020, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Black Wall Street Massacre happened in 1921 and was one of the worst race riots in the history of the United States…

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