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Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors Set to Receive Ghanaian Citizenship at Ceremony in Washington



Viola Fletcher, the 108-year-old survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, and her 101-year-old brother, Van Ellis, will acquire Ghanaian citizenship during a ceremony at Ghana’s embassy in Washington on Tuesday, Feb. 28. In 2021, Fletcher, called “Mother Fletcher,” and Ellis, often called “Uncle Red,” traveled to Ghana for the first time. The visit was part of Ghana’s Remembrance Day. For Fletcher and Ellis, it also counted as a time of reflection on the Tulsa massacre, which left about 300 dead, hundreds more injured, and 10,000 African Americans homeless. The pair returned to Ghana this month but will attend the citizenship ceremony organized by the Ghana Tourism Authority, members of the government, and H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, the founder, and head of mission at the Diaspora African Forum.

Mother Viola Fletcher

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ghana Tourism Authority will host the 11 a.m. event. “The family is honored to be receiving Ghanian citizenship for our priceless Black icons,” Ike Howard, Mother Fletcher’s grandson, told NNPA Newswire from Africa. “Mother Fletcher wanted to visit the Motherland before she caught her wings,” Howard stated. “Now she has the option to live in the Motherland.” In 2021, the Ghana Tourism Authority, Diaspora Africa Forum, and Osu Traditional Council honored the Fletcher and Ellis in Accra with a naming ceremony. Fletcher received the name Naa Lameley. Ellis was given the name Bio Lantey. Both received certificates with their new African names. “The naming ceremony is for our brothers and sisters to reconnect with them and welcome them back home, and also to review their identities as Africans and Ghanaians, to be precise,” Deputy Minister of Arts, Culture, and Tourism Mark Okraku Mantey said. “Ghana is a hospitable country, and I am sure you have seen places, worn Ghana, eaten Ghana, and heard Ghanaian music. Share the word that Ghanaians love people, especially Black people,” Mantey declared. H.E. Bennett said Fletcher and Ellis combined for more than 200 years of history and experience of the diaspora and are an embodiment of the strength and resilience of the African spirit. She said their history would live forever, and all generations would come to hear about them. “DAF together with GTA intends to do a memorable ceremony at the Ghana Embassy in Washington at the end of Black History Month,” H.E. Bennett wrote in a Jan. 26, 2023, letter to the CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority. “We have engaged Tyler Perry, the world-renowned actor, playwright, author, songwriter, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, to film this ceremony as a documentary,” she stated.

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