Whoever held the record for the world’s oldest memoirists, congratulations but there is a new title holder as of yesterday. It’s 109 year-old Viola Fletcher, and what a story she has to tell. Fletcher is the oldest living survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre: a two-day rampage that destroyed Greenwood, a thriving Black neighborhood that was popularly known as Black Wall Street. She was just 7 at the time of the attack, but can still recount the violence that took place in her recently released memoir, Don't Let Them Bury My Story. The book details the riots, the violence and the fallout, which shaped her life and her community.
Even more than a century on, the riots continue to define Fletcher’s life. She postponed her 109th birthday celebrations to appear in court seeking reparations for the damages inflicted over a century ago. In July, however, the case was dismissed, signaling an end to the decades-long battle for justice.
After the court ruling, Fletcher issued a statement: “I will not be dismissed. Our stories, our pain and our demand for justice cannot be erased or ignored. The dismissal of this case sends a chilling message that the crimes committed against our communities can be swept under the rug. Forgotten. Buried. But we will not allow that to happen. We will continue to fight for truth, for justice, and for the acknowledgment of our suffering. They will not bury my story.”
Don’t Let Them Bury My Story was released yesterday, August 15th. Learn more about Fletcher’s experiences and testimony here.