Oklahoma Supreme Court Dismisses Reparations Lawsuit Filed by Last Survivors of Tulsa Race Massacre

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the last survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, seeking reparations for the atrocities committed against them and their families. The decision was made on Wednesday, 12, 2024, after years of legal battles over whether or not the state should provide compensation to those who suffered through one of the worst racial massacres in American history.

The lawsuit was filed by three survivors – Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Randle – who are all over 100 years old, and their descendants. They argued that the state had failed to provide adequate reparations for the massacre which destroyed their homes, businesses and took the lives of hundreds of Black residents.

The court’s decision came as a blow to many in the community who were hoping for some form of justice and acknowledgment from the state for its role in the devastating event. However, according to Chief Justice Richard Darby, there is no legal basis for the state to be held responsible for events that happened over 100 years ago.

In his ruling, Justice Darby stated that while “the atrocities committed during the Tulsa Race Massacre were horrific and should never be forgotten,” the state is not liable for damages due to sovereign immunity laws. These laws protect states from being sued for actions taken in their official capacity unless they have waived that immunity.

The decision was met with disappointment and anger by many, including civil rights activists and descendants of massacre victims. They argue that while the state may not be legally responsible, it has a moral obligation to address the lasting impacts of the massacre on Black communities in Oklahoma.

The Tulsa Race Massacre occurred over two days in May 1921 when a white mob attacked and destroyed the prosperous Black neighborhood of Greenwood, also known as “Black Wall Street.” The massacre resulted in the death of hundreds of Black residents and left thousands homeless.

While the survivors’ lawsuit may have been dismissed, it has brought renewed attention to the Tulsa Race Massacre and sparked conversations about reparations and racial justice in Oklahoma. It is a reminder that despite being over 100 years old, the effects of this dark chapter in American history are still being felt today.

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