One of the Last Living Survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre Who ‘Spent a Lifetime Awaiting Atonement’ Dies at Age 102

One of the last living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre died this week amid his fight to be compensated for “one of the most horrific acts of racist terrorism on American soil.”

Hughes Van Ellis, 102, died on Monday morning, Oct. 9, in Denver, Colorado, according to a statement from Oklahoma Rep. Regina Goodwin obtained by KOKI-TV. The beloved World War II veteran, known as “Uncle Redd,” passed away at 11:30 a.m. His nephew described him as a “remarkable person.”

ttorneys Slams Oklahoma for Avoiding Settlement Discussions In Reparations Lawsuit for Last Living Survivors of The Tulsa Race Massacre
Hughes Van Ellis smiles for a portrait at a rally during commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre on June 1, 2021, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

“Mr. Ellis bravely served America, even as he spent a lifetime awaiting atonement related to the Tulsa Race Massacre,” the statement said.

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He was only six months old when an angry white mob ransacked a booming Black community in Tulsa, coined as “Black Wall Street.” His family was forced to leave after their home was burned to the ground. 

Ellis, along with his sister Viola Ford Fletcher and Lessie Benningfield Randle – both also in their 100s — have been fighting for justice and have spoken publicly about how the deadly riot followed them throughout their lives. 

“I can’t sleep at night. I have to have light,” Ellis told “TODAY” in 2021. “I wake up about four times a night.”

“I only got a chance to get a 12th- grade diploma,” the father of seven added. “I didn’t get a chance to go to no college. I had to work.”

The trio filed a lawsuit in 2020, seeking a “remedy” for the “ongoing nuisance” caused by the 1921 riot. In August, the state of Oklahoma refused to discuss a settlement, and their attorney said the team is gathering briefings to send to the Supreme Court, KOKI-TV reported. 

“Mr. Ellis, urged us to keep fighting for justice. In the midst of his death, there remains an undying sense of right and wrong,” the statement said. “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.”

Read the original story here.

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