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105-year-old woman leads lawsuit seeking reparations for 1921 Tulsa massacre

“Someone said recently that the folks [who] committed the massacre almost got away with it. Well, they did get away with it. Until today,” said Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons.

Black Wall Street Memorial Getty Images

Survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre filed a lawsuit on Tuesday (Sep. 1) demanding reparations almost 100 years after a white mob destroyed the area known as Black Wall Street.

The main plaintiff, 105-year-old Lessie Benningfield Randle, was a child at the time that her neighborhood was destroyed, reports Fox News. She “still experiences flashbacks of Black bodies stacked on the street as her neighborhood was burning, causing her to constantly relive the terror,” according to the complaint. She is one of two living survivors from the massacre.

“No one, to this day, has been held accountable,” Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons said during a press conference Tuesday. “Someone said recently that the folks [who] committed the massacre almost got away with it. Well, they did get away with it. Until today.”

The 48-page lawsuit states that “a large, angry White mob, including some members of the Tulsa Police Department, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department, and the National Guard,” had engulfed the all-Black Greenwood District “killing hundreds of Black residents, injuring thousands more, burning down homes over one thousand homes and businesses and stealing residents’ personal property.”

The massacre was one of the most heinous acts of racial terrorism committed in the U.S. by those in power against Black people since slavery,” said Solomon-Simmons. “White elected officials and business leaders not only failed to repair the injuries they caused, they engaged in conduct to deepen the injury and block repair.”

The lawsuit does not specify how much the plaintiffs are seeking in damages. Additionally, they are asking for a scholarship to be created for descendants of massacre victims and the plaintiffs want Black Tulsa residents to be given priority for city contracts for the next 99 years.

Back in July, REVOLT reported that Tulsa officials began to excavate graves which were believed to belong to the victims of the infamous massacre. The bodies were placed in unmarked grave sites underground at the Oaklawn Cemetery.

“This is a historic day for Tulsa and for our country,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum wrote on Facebook. “It should not have taken 99 years for us to be doing this investigation. But this generation of Tulsans is committed to doing what’s right by our neighbors and following the truth wherever it leads us.”

“The ultimate goal here is to be able to connect the victims of this event with their family,” he continued. “That is a tremendous challenge. That is not something we’d expect to have wrapped up at the end of the year. That’s something that will take years to do.”

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