Heartbreaking Loss of Tulsa Race Massacre Survivor – His Final Plea for Justice

In a tragic turn of events, Hughes “Uncle Redd” Van Ellis, one of the last three known survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, has passed away at the age of 102. His death, announced by his family, has left a void in the fight for justice that he championed throughout his life.

Hughes Ellis passed away on a Monday night in Denver, Colorado, as reported by Oklahoma Rep. Regina Goodwin, who shared the family’s statement. His grandnephew, Ike Howard, lamented that Ellis had passed away while still waiting for justice. Hughes Ellis was a mere few months old when he, along with his older sister Viola Fletcher, fled the Greenwood District of Tulsa as a violent white mob decimated their thriving black community. This horrifying event claimed the lives of hundreds of residents and reduced countless homes and businesses to ashes.

Ellis’s life story serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring impact of the Tulsa Race Massacre. He once said, “I lost 102 years. I don’t want nobody else to lose that.” His plea for justice was fueled by the desire to ensure that no one else would suffer the way his community did.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre stands as one of the darkest chapters in American history, characterized by the relentless violence and destruction inflicted by a white mob upon the prosperous Greenwood District, often referred to as “Black Wall Street.” The horrors of that day included arson, shootings, and even aerial bombings from private planes. The massacre resulted in the deaths of as many as 300 people and the destruction of over 1,000 homes, according to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.

Hughes Ellis, along with his 109-year-old sister Viola Fletcher and 108-year-old Lessie Benningfield Randle, were the last three known survivors of this heinous act of racial violence. They had been locked in a protracted legal battle with the City of Tulsa and other officials to secure reparations for the devastation inflicted upon their community over a century ago.

Despite the survivors’ efforts to seek justice, an Oklahoma judge dismissed their lawsuit against the city in July. Their attorneys have since appealed the decision, with the state Supreme Court considering their case. However, a resolution remains uncertain.

The survivors and their families have endured the emotional scars of that fateful night for decades. Viola Fletcher emphasized, “It’s been a long time ago, but it is something you can’t forget. You think about it every day and every night.”

On his deathbed, Hughes Ellis urged his loved ones to continue the fight for justice. His family released a statement, saying, “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 was not just a survivor but also a “loving family man” and a World War II veteran. His life story continues to inspire and serve as a reminder of the resilience and strength of those who endured such traumatic events.

As we mourn the passing of Hughes “Uncle Redd” Van Ellis, we are reminded of the urgent need to address historical injustices and ensure that the victims and survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre receive the justice they have sought for so long.

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