A group of people in Oklahoma, led by a 105-year-old Black woman, have filed a lawsuit earlier this week demanding reparations for the 1921 Tulsa race massacre in which angry mobs of white people burned down a burgeoning black neighborhood and kill hundreds of people according to CNN.
Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle, a 105-year-old Black survivor of the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is leading the charge in the lawsuit. Randle was just a little girl when an angry white mob rampaged through the Greenwood District, which was known as “Black Wall Street” as it was home to more than 300 black-owned businesses.
The lawsuit is demanding reparations for damage that it says has continued since the destruction of the city’s Black business district.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this week on Tuesday in Tulsa County District Court by Justice for Greenwood Advocates. Some of the plaintiffs include the Vernon A.M.E Church, which was the only black-owned building to survive the massacre, descendants of other victims, and the Tulsa African Ancestral Society.
“Greenwood and North Tulsa Community residents continue to face racially disparate treatment and City-created barriers to basic human needs, including jobs, financial security, education, housing, justice, and health,” it says.
According to the lawsuit, the white mob descended on the neighborhood, looted and destroyed Randle’s grandmother’s home, which caused her “emotional and physical distress that continues to this day.”
“She experiences flashbacks of Black bodies that were stacked up on the street as her neighborhood was burning, causing her to constantly relive the terror of May 31 and June 1, 1921,” the lawsuit states.
Randle is one of the last living survivors of the massacre, which occurred after a 19-year-old Black man, Dick Rowland, was accused of assaulting a 17-year-old white girl named Sarah Page in an elevator in a Tulsa building. Charges against Rowland were later dismissed.
The lawsuit also calls for the creation of a victim compensation fund, mental health, and education programs for residents of Greenwood and North Tulsa. It also seeks to build a college fund for descendants of massacre victims.
“Ms. Randle has been hurting all these years by what happened in Tulsa. It’s been a huge burden on her and she believes it’s about time for the city to pay what’s owed,” Attorney Damario Solomon Simmons said. “Ms. Randle wants respect, restoration, and repair from the City of Tulsa.”