Mother Randle, One of the Last Two Survivors of Tulsa Race Massacre, Celebrates 109th Birthday


by Veracity Savant

November 13, 2023

Her only wish is to see justice for what was done!

Mother Lessie Benningfield Randle, one of the last two known survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, just celebrated her 109th birthday on November 10th. According to The New York Times, Randle was just six years old when a mob of whites decimated the once-thriving Black Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s a day that, a century later, Randle still remembers vividly. 

“My community was beautiful and was filled with happy and successful Black people. Then everything changed. It was like a war. White men with guns came and destroyed my community. We couldn’t understand why. What did we do to them? We didn’t understand. We were just living. But they came, and they destroyed everything,” Randle said during her testimony before a House subcommittee in 2021.


Randle, along with Viola Fletcher and the estate of Hughes Van Ellis, Fletcher’s younger brother, who passed away recently at the age of 102, are among a group fighting for reparations for survivors and their descendants. Randle first sued the city of Tulsa when she was 105 years old. That same year, community leaders helped restore her childhood home as a birthday gift

This year, she gathered with family and friends to celebrate and express her deep gratitude for all she had been through, WHAM news reports. Randle was surrounded by flowers, balloons, and small gifts. She expressed appreciation for it all, specifically the tribute featuring a rendition of her favorite son, “Amazing Grace.” 

“It just makes me feel wonderful…”I’ve been through so much and come through it all,” said Randle. 


While she’s grateful, the elder also believes that justice is long overdue. At 109, she doesn’t know if she’ll ever get to see it, as she awaits a final ruling from Oklahoma’s highest court. 

“I would like to see justice. It’s past time. I would like to see this all cleared up, and we go down the right road. But I do not know if I will ever see that,” Randle admitted.

Still, she’s keeping the faith and remaining resilient. Her great-grandson Deshon Penny said the efforts of the family and community to make sure Randle receives her flowers and respect is very appreciated. It’s the least that can be done for someone who’s endured so much. 


“It’s a blessing; they really showed up and stuff. She really appreciates it though. I know she does,” said Penny

Cover photo: Mother Randle, One of the Last Two Survivors of Tulsa Race Massacre, Celebrates 109th Birthday/Photo by Justice for Greenwood

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