On Tulsa 1921: An American Tragedy, a special commemorating the centennial of the race massacre in Tulsa, Okla., that left hundreds dead and a neighborhood in ruins, CBS’s Gayle King was joined by two survivors of the attack. Viola Fletcher, 107, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106, shared what they witnessed on May 31 and June 1 of 1921, when a mob of white citizens attacked the area that has come to be known as Black Wall Street, murdering residents, and burning down homes and businesses.
“I saw them break into people’s houses, and just — just destruction,” Randle said. “That’s all I saw, just destruction.” “And they were giving notice out on the street: ‘Leave town. Leave town,’” Fletcher added. “‘They’re killing all of the Black people.’”
Randle, who is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking reparations for the attack, reportedly still has flashbacks of the massacre, including seeing bodies stacked in the street.
“Men came in and started shooting in. I do remember a lot of people being murdered,” Randle said, adding, “I want the world to know, I never want to see anything else like that anymore, and I hope it never happens again.”
Asked if she tries not to think about the massacre, Fletcher replied, “Oh no, I think about it every day. I think it’ll be something I’ll never forget. The people getting killed. Had to give up our home and all.”
Both Fletcher and Randle also spoke about what the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa was like before it was all but burned to the ground.
“Well, we had friends and played outside, and visit with neighbors and was happy there with our parents,” Fletcher said. “Just loved being there.”
“It was getting to be a pretty nice place,” Randle said. “They had theater and they had other places of recreation, and they had churches. And they came in and tore it all down.”
For more on Tulsa 1921: An American Tragedy check out CBS.com.
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