Today (June 12), the New York Times revealed that the Oklahoma Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the last survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The decision dealt a blow to advocates seeking justice for one of the most egregious acts of violence against Black Americans in United States history. The ruling, which upheld a district court judge's previous decision, concluded that while the grievances of the plaintiffs were valid, they did not align with the parameters outlined in the state's public nuisance statute.

Lessie Benningfield Randle and Viola Fletcher, both of whom are over 100 years of age, aimed to hold the city of Tulsa and other entities accountable for the devastation wrought upon the once-thriving Black community of Greenwood. This district, often referred to as Black Wall Street, was ravaged by a white mob on May 31 and June 1, 1921. The violence, which saw the looting and burning of businesses and homes, resulted in the deaths of up to 300 Black residents, with thousands more forced into internment camps under National Guard supervision.

For Randle and Fletcher, along with now-deceased plaintiff Hughes Van Ellis, the lawsuit represented a final quest for justice within their lifetimes. “It’s past time," Randle stated before the state’s decision. “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.”

District Court Judge Caroline Wall previously ruled in May 2022 that the case could proceed before dismissing it a year later. As reported by REVOLT, she sided with city lawyers, who argued that “simply being connected to a historical event does not provide a person with unlimited rights to seek compensation from any project in any way related to that historical event.” In August 2023, the Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the lower court’s dismissal.

“We were forced to plead this case beyond what is required under Oklahoma standards, which is certainly a familiar circumstance when Black Americans ask the American legal system to work for them,” read a statement by the survivors' attorney, Damario Solomon-Simmons, after Judge Wall's dismissal. “Like so many Black Americans, we carry the weight of intergenerational racial trauma day in and day out."