Two Survivors Of Tulsa Race Massacre Granted Ghanaian Citizenship

Two of the last known survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre have been granted citizenship by the Republic of Ghana. This was done during a ceremony held at the Embassy of Ghana in Washington on Tuesday, February 28, 2023.

The two survivors — Viola Fletcher, 108, and her brother Hughes Van Ellis, 102 — sat in golden print robes in the front row at the ceremony, where they were serenaded with drumming, dancing and a ballad: “Welcome home. You’ve been kept down for much too long. Don’t forget you are welcome home.”

The survivors completed the citizenship process by swearing an oath of allegiance and signing certification documents.

Hajia Alima Mahama, Ghana’s first female ambassador to the United States, explained to the crowd that Fletcher and Ellis would become dual citizens. “I now invite Queen Mother Naa Lameley Viola Fletcher to take the oath of allegiance,” she said.

Fletcher repeated the oath quietly, with her grandson Ike Howard at her side echoing each word loudly:

“I swear solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithfully bear true allegiance to the Republic of Ghana and I will preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the Republic of Ghana, so help me God.”

Fletcher and Ellis were children when a White mob descended on the all-Black neighbourhood of Greenwood in Tulsa on May 31, 1921, destroying one of the country’s most prosperous Black communities. When the massacre ended, as many as 300 Black people had been killed, and a 35-square-block area of Greenwood was destroyed.

Ellis holds a Ghanaian flag and wears a kente cloth bearing his Ghanaian name after being sworn in as a citizen of Ghana. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Fletcher and Ellis visited Ghana in 2021, on the centennial of the massacre, one of the worst incidents of racist terror violence committed against Black Americans. During that visit, they were given royal Ghanaian names: Ellis was crowned a chief and called Bio Lantey, and Fletcher was crowned a queen mother and named Naa Lameley, meaning a strong person who stands the test of time.

On their trip, they also met Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, who approved the process for granting them Ghanaian citizenship and gave Fletcher a plot of land in the capital, Accra.

Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Ghana’s minister for tourism, arts and culture, welcomed Fletcher and Ellis to the West African nation. “Queen Mother and uncle, you are more than beautiful. Let me bring you greetings from the Republic of Ghana,” Mohammed said. “We want you to use this ceremony to look back to your roots.”

Mohammed proclaimed Fletcher and Ellis “100 per cent Ghanaian,” as the crowd stood for the Ghanaian national anthem.

Source: Washingtonpost

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