105-yr-old Tulsa massacre survivor’s birthday wish to have her childhood home restored granted

Ama Nunoo March 09, 2020
Dr Tiffany Crutcher(L) and Lessie Randle (R) sitting on a bed in her renovated childhood home, Photo: Tulsa World

Lessie Benningfield Randle is among the last known living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa massacre. And her 105th birthday wish to have her childhood home that was ruined during the riots restored has been granted by a benevolent team.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Riots is considered one of the most horrible and racially motivated attacks on African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It triggered after a 19-year-old black shoe shiner Dick Rowland was accused of raping a 17-year-old white female elevator operator called Sarah Page.

A white mob about 10,000 of them eventually attacked and destroyed the properties of the black inhabitants living in Greenwood, which was at that time the most affluent African American community in the United States.

It was even known as the “Black Wall Street” as it was home to highly successful and profitable black-owned businesses.

The mob set ablaze businesses, homes, and churches and after the smoke cleared, more than 35 blocks were destroyed. It is believed that at least 100-300 people, mostly blacks, were killed while a thousand more were left homeless and others left unaccountable in the two days of fighting.

According to the Oklahoma Eagle, Randle’s only wish was to have her childhood home restored to its former glory after being destroyed years ago during the riots.

Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, founder of the Terence Crutcher Foundation, in partnership with home renovation experts, Revitalize T-Town, District City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, and Tony Moore, Executive Director of community revitalization organization, the Gathering Place, along with local community members took on the project to renovate Randle’s home.

“This project is near and dear to my heart and as a descendant of a survivor of the massacre who is no longer living, I feel it is my duty to honor the life and legacy of Mother Randle who survived and endured one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks on American soil.

“This act of kindness honors the legacy of my great grandmother, the late Rebecca Brown Crutcher who fled the massacre in fear of her life,” Crutcher said.

Crutcher’s Terence Crutcher Foundation is a foundation that honors her brother who was shot to death by the Tulsa Police Department in 2016 while he was unarmed.

Since then, Crutcher has dedicated her life to see to the end of police brutality and restoring those families affected by that brutality in Tulsa.

National Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump, who represented the Crutcher family during their ordeal, also spoke to the renovations saying, “I couldn’t be more proud of my dear friend and client Dr. Tiffany Crutcher.”

“To watch Tiffany, turn her own pain and tragedy of losing her twin brother to the same police department that burned down Black Wall Street, into purpose and triumph should be inspirational to us all.” 

House warming party was held over the weekend for Randle’s new home and walking down the hallways, with a smile on her face, she said it made her feel “like a queen” and was grateful to everyone who came on board to help make her wish come true, according to Tulsa world.

“I’m just so pleased and so happy to be with you all and you all to be with me,” Randle said.

“God has blessed me over 100 years, and I thank him. And I thank you all for being here for me. Nowadays, there isn’t too much love in the world, so I’m just so glad to know that you love me well enough to come out and see me.”

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: March 9, 2020


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