109-year-old survivor of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is now the world’s oldest author

Dollita Okine June 06, 2023
Fletcher's memoir covers her experience as a 107-year-old who had to testify before Congress a century later in hopes of finding justice for the victims and families of the unfortunate incident.” Photo Credit: The Black Wall Street Times, The Grio

109-year-old Viola Fletcher recently became the world’s oldest author, as well as the oldest living survivor of the unfortunate 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.  

Her memoir, “Don’t Let Them Bury My Story,” was released early in June at Fulton Street Books & Coffee, according to The Black Wall Street Times. Aside from her experience, the book also describes her thoughts on the traumatic incident.

According to Market Watch, Ms. Fletcher, also known as “Mother Fletcher,” guides readers through her journey as a scared 7-year-old who was awakened in the middle of the night and forced to run for her life, leaving behind a blazing Greenwood.

The memoir also covers her experience as a 107-year-old who had to testify before Congress a century later in hopes of finding justice for the victims and families of the unfortunate incident.

“I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home. I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned… I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot, ” she said.

Mother Fletcher attended the Book launch in the company of her grandson, Ike Howard; her 102-year-old younger brother, Hughes Van Ellis, who is another survivor of the massacre and hopes to also release a book soon; and lastly, her publisher, Mocha Ochoa.

Howard, who is also the co-writer and President of the Viola Ford Fletcher Foundation, said, “This book is about different things that happened to our family and the generational trauma that was passed on because of the Race Massacre.” He also noted that Viola was a welder in a Shipyard during World War II, adding that he experienced his grandmother having nightmares and had always been nosy about what had really happened.

He later encouraged her to share her story with him and the world at large, which she did as he got older, causing him to understand what had really held her back from telling it in the years past.

Her grandson explained that his grandmother often kept to herself, as she had received threats that if she ever told a thing, she and her entire family would be killed. In a feat to protect her grandson, she refused to share the story until now.

According to Howard, his grandmother “wants accountability. She wants justice. She wants people to know the history so that it doesn’t repeat itself.”

Her publisher Mocha Ochoa, also said, “Some of us use our gifts or we use our stories to create a better world.”

Earlier in May, Fletcher joined a court hearing in the ongoing trial of a lawsuit over restitutions for people impacted by the massacre. For this reason, she delayed her book’s publication to give her some time to add her contemplations of the trial in the book, Tulsa World reported.

 The family admitted that it was a challenge to narrate 109 years’ worth of stories. According to 2 News Oklahoma, Howard revealed that his grandmother told him something new each day. Anytime they went on a drive, she would give him new information.

Lifelong Tulsan resident, Bobby Eaton, who was part of the Launch attendees, said, “I’m most inspired by Mother Fletcher’s and Uncle Red’s legacy and the information that they’re giving us, about their lives, not only the massacre, but their lives.”

In 2021, Viola Fletcher and her brother visited Ghana and met with Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo. She was crowned a queen mother and honored with many Ghanaian names like Naa Lamiley, which means ‘the first female child in a family,’ and Naa Yaoteley, which means ‘somebody who is strong, ’ according to The Washington Post.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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