Tulsa race massacre survivor: ‘Don’t Let Them Bury My Story’
"I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot. – Viola Ford Fletcher. A lifetime in the ...
"I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot. – Viola Ford Fletcher.
A lifetime in the making, "Don’t Let Them Bury My Story" shares the journey of the oldest survivor and last living witness of the Tulsa Massacre of 1921.
In her memoir, Fletcher, affectionally known as "Mother Fletcher," takes readers through the journey of a terriﬁed 7year-old girl awakened in the middle of the night and forced to flee her burning neighborhood of Greenwood, Okla., to the 107- year-old family matriarch testifying before Congress100 years later to the date seeking justice for the families of the greatest tragedy to take place on American soil.
"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 still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams," Fletcher told Congress.
"I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot."
Despite 1921 Tulsa being a highly segregated city, the 10,000 Black residents of its Greenwood community created a thriving business district known as "Black Wall Street."
What should have been an opportunity to create generational wealth became a nightmare that killed hundreds of Black Tulsans. The thousands of survivors who had just lost loved ones and millions of dollars in property were then forced into internment camps.
With no one ever held accountable for the horror they endured, the traumatized American citizens had to ﬁgure out how to survive in a country that attacked them with military force and threatened their lives if they ever attempted to tell their stories. For 102 years, the remaining survivors patiently waited to be acknowledged, heard, and restored.
"My grandmother was afraid to tell her stories for many years in fear of retaliation," says her grandson Ike Howard, co-writer and president of the Viola Ford Fletcher Foundation.
Finally, the retired military veteran suggested that perhaps God had blessed her with longevity so she could tell everyone what happened in Tulsa.
"Knowing I was here to protect her, she was encouraged to conquer her fear. She looked at me and said, "Alright then, go tell my damn story."
"Don’t Let Them Bury My Story" is set to publish on May 30, 2023, the 102nd Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, under Mocha Media, a Black-woman-owned publishing company that produces original, curated, and user-generated content in digital and traditional formats.
Upon publication Fletcher will be 109 years old, making her the oldest centurion to ever write a book.
"What an honor it is to make history on International Women’s Day with Mother Fletcher, who is using the power of the pen to keep her survival story alive. It’s Literary Activism at its finest," says Margo Ochoa, CEO of Mocha Media Inc.
"Because our publishing model not only provides a platform for marginalized writers but it also allows Ms. Fletcher to receive immediate royalties, this we in our own way can do our part to assist in the economic restoration of Ms. Fletcher and her family."
Fletcher and Ike Howard along with her "Baby Brother" Van Ellis (102) who wrote the forward to the book will embark on tour during the spring and summer of 2023.
Learn more at mochamediabooks.com/