An Oklahoma judge ruled Monday that a lawsuit seeking reparations for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre can proceed, bringing new hope for some measure of justice for three survivors of the deadly racist rampage who are now over 100 years old and were in the courtroom for the decision.
After over a century, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma will stand trial for its role in the 1921 Race Massacre that wiped out businesses and neighborhoods and injured and killed hundreds of Black residents.
On Monday (May 2), Judge Caroline Wall ruled against the City of Tulsa’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, calling it “denied in part and granted in part.”
According to CNN, Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons and his team at Justice for Greenwood can continue to the discovery phase of a trial.
“We got a lot of work to do to prove. And we can prove it, we will prove it. But I appreciate her giving us the opportunity to show that we had the necessary information to move past a motion to dismiss,” Solomon-Simmons said following the ruling.
On May 31 and June 1, 1921, a mob of enraged white people attacked Black residents in the historic Greenwood District in a thriving area known as “The Black Wall Street.”
As residents slept, the mob of white people completely destroyed all that the community had worked hard to build. And now, 101 years later, the City of Tulsa, County Boards, Tulsa Regional Chamber, Oklahoma Military Department and other entities will have to answer for the crimes.
There are only three living survivors and descendants of the massacre. Viola Ford Fletcher, 108, is the oldest of the three survivors known be alive. Those pushing for a resolution would like to see the changes made while the three residents are still living.
“Me, my aunt, and Seth Bryant — great-grandson of AJ Smitherman of the Tulsa Star that was burned down and never reopened after the Tulsa Race Massacre. This is us summoning the Black Excellence that is our BWS legacy after a historic court hearing. #JusticeforGreenwood,” Nehemiah Frank said in a tweet from today (May 3).
Last year, Oklahoma State Rep. Regina Goodwin — a descendant of victims from the Massacre — proposed a bill that would give $300 million in reparations for survivors. The bill has yet to be passed.
As Attorney Solomon-Simmons and his team begin their fight for justice, Goodwin says, “Right now, we got life. And we’re excited. All the hard work and creativity that Attorney Solomon-Simmons has brought to date is working. So we gotta keep pushing, pressing and praying.”
Me, my aunt, and Seth Bryant —great-grandson of AJ Smitherman of the Tulsa Star that was burned down and never reopened after the Tulsa Race Massacre. This is us summoning the Black Excellence that is our BWS legacy after a historic court hearing. #JusticeforGreenwood pic.twitter.com/OpoQbl9NCp
— Nehemiah D. Frank (@nehemiahdfrank) May 3, 2022