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Oklahoma Supreme Court rejects Tulsa Race Massacre lawsuit

The state’s highest court sympathizes with the survivors’ application but rejects them nevertheless
The Greenwood neighborhod, aka Black Wall Street, as it is engulfed in flames
The Greenwood neighborhod, aka Black Wall Street, as it is engulfed in flames (Image source: YouTube/History)

The Supreme Court in Oklahoma rejected the reparations lawsuit brought by the remaining survivors of the infamous Tulsa Race Massacre more than 100 years ago.

The last two living women who resided in the famed Greenwood district in 1921, Lessie Benningfield Randle and Viola Fletcher, are over 100 years old. According to, their attorneys said the families of the two women filed the legal documents in 2020, hoping that they would receive “justice in their lifetime.” 

A third plaintiff, Hughes Van Ellis, died in 2023 at age 102. reports that the state Supreme Court agreed that the plaintiffs’ “grievance with the social and economic inequities created by the Tulsa Race Massacre is legitimate and worthy of merit.”

However, the decision reads, “The law does not permit us to extend the scope of our public nuisance doctrine beyond what the Legislature has authorized to afford Plaintiffs the justice they are seeking,” the court wrote in its decision.

“We further hold that the plaintiff’s allegations do not sufficiently support a claim for unjust enrichment.”

The lawsuit was the survivors’ attempt to force the city of Tulsa to pay reparations for the complete destruction of the Greenwood neighborhood — better known as “Black Wall Street” — by a murderous White mob on May 31 and June 1, 1921. The dastardly mob, many of whom were deputized, reportedly arrested thousands of Blacks, killed hundreds of others, and also robbed, looted, and burned thousands of residences. 

YouTube video

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit also included accusations that the city of Tulsa profited from their pain by showing the former Greenwood area as a tourist attraction, from which none of the survivors have received compensation.

Viola Ford Fletcher, also called “Mother Fletcher,” just turned 110. She told CNN that she still remembers the horror of that day more than a century ago. She was just 6 years old when her family fled the Greenwood neighborhood and were forced to abandon their home and hard-earned possessions or face certain death. 

“I would’ve gotten an education to where I could get a better job, especially being a nurse,” Fletcher told the network. 

Fletcher said she “never got over” that horrific day and still remembers seeing “people getting killed, houses, property, schools, churches, and stores getting destroyed with fire,” CNN reports. 

“It just stays with me, you know, just the fear. I have lived in Tulsa since but I don’t sleep all night living there,” Fletcher added. 

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