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‘This Country Is Your Country’: Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors Granted Ghanaian Citizenship and Property In the Motherland

Two surviving witnesses of the Tulsa Race Massacre are now dual citizens in the United States and an African nation.

 The pair was granted citizenship in the Republic of Ghana by the Embassy of Ghana in Washington, D.C.

Viola Ford Fletcher, 108, and her brother Hughes Van Ellis, 102, are now officially Ghanaians, according to a report from The Washington Post. They are two of three last survivors of the horrific national shame, where hundreds of residents here killed, about 800 were injured and over 1,250 homes and property within the 35-square-block area were burned to the ground.

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Viola Fletcher and Hughes Van Ellis were small children when the 1921 Tulsa Massacre happened. There are two of the three surviving victims. (YouTube Screenshot/ NBC News)

The two attended a ceremony at the Ghanaian Embassy, where they swore an oath of allegiance and signed certification documents recognizing them as citizens of the African country from which a substantial number of enslaved people originated.

KTUL reports the ceremony was hosted and organized by Erieka Bennett, founder of Diaspora African Forum, the Ghana Tourism Authority and members of the Ghanaian government.

Hajia Alima Mahama, Ghana’s first female ambassador to the United States, participated in the program. She first explained what dual citizenship meant before calling Fletcher to take her oath.

“I now invite Queen Mother Naa Lameley Viola Fletcher to take the oath of allegiance,” she said.

Fletcher said, “I swear solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will 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.”

The centenarian’s grandson stood beside her and repeated each word after her.

After Ellis finished reciting the oath, he waved a small Ghanaian flag before saying, “I feel like a king. It is an honor and privilege to be a member of Ghana.”

According to the BBC, the Justice for Greenwood Foundation said Fletcher and Ellis are now the oldest African Americans to be granted citizenship of Ghana, adding the foundation was “proud to stand in solidarity with the survivors, celebrating their resilience and their contribution to the history” of Blacks in the Sooner State. 

The siblings, who were children during the race riot in 1921 that ended “Black Wall Street,” were previously crowned as royalty in the West African nation. Fletcher was crowned “queen mother” and received the name Naa Lameley, which means “a strong person who stands the test of time.” Ellis was crowned a chief, receiving the name Bio Lantey.

Fletcher and Ellis visited Ghana two years ago during the centennial commemoration of the Tulsa massacre, one of the most heinous cases of terrorist violence perpetrated in America.

During their inaugural visit, they met Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo.

It was Akufo-Addo who later approved their citizenship, even giving the queen mother a plot of land in Accra, the nation’s capital. The official said the two demonstrated resilience and went on to “tell the story.”

After receiving citizenship, the minister of tourism welcomed the family into the fold.

“Queen Mother and uncle, you are more than beautiful. Let me bring you greetings from the Republic of Ghana,” Ibrahim Mohammed Awal said. “We want you to use this ceremony to look back to your roots.”

As those gathered stood to sing the Ghanaian national anthem, belting out, “God bless our homeland Ghana, And make our nation great and strong,” the minister proclaimed both Fletcher and Ellis are “100 percent Ghanaian.”

While Fletcher and Ellis are two noted African Americans granted citizenship, Akufo-Addo has been inviting members of the African diaspora to visit his country since 2019, the 400-year commemoration of the first African slaves to arrive in the original American colonies.

“This country is your country, and anyone who wants to come to re-establish, connect with us here, is welcome,” Akufo-Addo said in 2021.

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