by Lauren Victoria Burke —
One of only three known survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre died on October 9 at the age of 102 years old.
Hughes Van Ellis, 102, died in Denver, Colorado on the morning of October 9. Van Ellis was born on Jan.11, 1921. The two last known survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre are now his sister Viola Ford Fletcher, 109, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 108.
The Greenwood District was a prosperous African-American community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, often referred to as “Black Wall Street.” It was a thriving business district with a vibrant Black cultural and economic life, home to many Black-owned businesses and residences.
On May 31, 1921, a young Black man named Dick Rowland was falsely accused of assaulting a young white woman named Sarah Page in an elevator. The allegation led to Rowland’s arrest and tensions escalated as rumors spread about the incident.
At the time, Hughes Van Ellis was three months old.
Over the years there have been several attempts to earn damage rewards for the destruction of life and property by the white community in Tulsa. None of the challenges have been successful so far.
A statement released by the family detailed that, “Mr. Hughes Van Ellis, 102, passed Mon. Oct. 9th at 11:30 am in Denver, Colorado. A loving family man, he was known as ‘Uncle Redd.’”
A WWII war veteran, Mr. Ellis, bravely served America, even as he spent a lifetime awaiting atonement related to the Tulsa Race Massacre.
Recently, Mr. Ellis urged those seeking reparations in connection with the massacre to “keep fighting for justice.”
(Lauren Victoria Burke, an independent investigative journalist and publisher of Black Virginia News, can be reach at [email protected]. Follow @LVBurke.)