On Monday (Oct. 9) morning, one of the three known Tulsa Race Massacre survivors, Hughes Van Ellis, died in Denver, Colorado at the age of 102, according to 2 News Oklahoma.
“Mr. Hughes Van Ellis, 102, passed [on] Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Denver, Colorado. A loving family man, he was known as ‘Uncle Redd.’ He was among the three last known survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the most horrific acts of racist terrorism on American soil,” a statement from a representative sent on his family’s behalf began.
“A WWII veteran, Mr. Ellis, bravely served America, even as he spent a lifetime awaiting atonement related to the Tulsa Race Massacre. Mr. Ellis was aware, survivors, his sister Mrs. Viola Ford Fletcher, 109, Mrs. Lessie Benningfield Randle, 108, and family descendants were recently at our state capitol interim study focused on 2001 state-commissioned reparation recommendations,” it continued. “Two days ago, Mr. Ellis urged us to keep fighting for justice. In the midst of his death, there remains an undying sense of right and wrong. Mr. Ellis was assured we would remain steadfast and we repeated to him, his own words, ‘We are one’ and we lastly expressed our love.”
Hughes Van Ellis, who fought in the WWII alongside the British, was barely a year old when the Tulsa Race Massacre took place. “My sister Viola told me, she said it was thought guns were going off,” Van Ellis told the news station back in 2021. “Dad looked outside to see people getting gunshot, houses getting burned. So, there’s only six little kids. I was a baby. So, my father just managed to barely get out, just with the clothes on our backs. We didn’t have time to get nothing else together.”
He added that after they escaped, life was tough for him and his siblings because they lost everything. They had to pick cotton to survive. President Joe Biden submitted a proclamation to recognize May 31, 2021 as a Day of Remembrance: 100 Years After The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
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