A chance at justice at last.
Almost 100 years later, Lessie Benningfield Randle, a 105-year-old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre is suing the city for reparations, according to NPR.
In the early 20th century, there were many Black-owned and operated communities that were creating Black wealth and a chance for upward mobility for ex-slaves and their descendants. One such place was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was dubbed “Black Wall Street” for the amount of money that was circulating within the Black community. However, in 1921, after a false accusation of an attack on a white woman, Sarah Page, by a young Black male shoe shiner, Dick Rowland, the town was attacked by an angry mob of white, armed vigilantes with more than 300 recorded deaths and the equivalent to $50 million to $100 million in damages.
Randle is joined by the great-granddaughter of B. Stratford who owned the Stratford Hotel in Greenwood, and the grandchildren of those murdered as plaintiffs in the case. The complaint said that Randle suffers from “emotional and physical distress that continues to this day.”
“For a long time, the word ‘reparations’ was a non-starter, but it is finally losing its taboo,” Damario Solomon-Simmons, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed. “The urgency of the protests across America shows that reforms won’t last unless we pay for the crimes of the past.”
According to the lawsuit it accuses the city of Tulsa, Tulsa county, the then-sheriff of Tulsa county, the Oklahoma national guard, and the Tulsa regional chamber of being involved in the massacre. Their lawyers are contesting that the defendants named “unjustly enriched themselves at the expense of the black citizens of Tulsa and the survivors and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.”
A commission done in 2001 found that the city conspired with the white terrorists to harm Black citizens. It recommended that direct payments be made to survivors and descendants, but attempts to secure reparations have failed.
But the time is always right for justice, even 100 years later. Thank you, Ms. Randle, for the reminder and the inspiration to press on!
Photo Credit: Twitter @Mikesimonsphoto