The Diaspora African Forum (DAF) has expressed appreciation to KGL Foundation for their active role in the two of the last known survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre who received citizenship of the Republic of Ghana, where they had previously been crowned Ghanaian royalty.
The conferment of citizenship on mother Fletcher and uncle Redd took place on Tuesday February 28, 2023 at the Embassy of Ghana in Washington DC.
DAF in collaboration with the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President and the Ministry of Interior held this citizenship ceremony for the two iconic Tulsa Massacre survivors, Voila Ford Fletcher & Hughes Van Ellis
Preseent during the event were the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ibrahim Mohammed Awal; CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority, Akwesi Agyeman; Head of Mission for Diaspora African Forum, H.E Dr. Erieka Bennett; Oklahoma State Rep., Regina Goodwin.
The rest were Grammy-nominated Ghanaian Musician, Rocky Dawuni, some other notable personalities, global media brands like BBC News, Washington Post among others to cover the event.
The citizenship process was completed by swearing an oath of allegiance and signing certification documents
The two survivors
The two survivors — Viola Fletcher, 108, and her brother Hughes Van Ellis, 102 — sat in golden print robes in the front row at the ceremony, where they were serenaded with drumming, dancing and a ballad: “Welcome home. You’ve been kept down for much too long. Don’t forget you are welcome home.”
Fletcher and Ellis were children when a White mob descended on the all-Black neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa on May 31, 1921, destroying one of the country’s most prosperous Black communities. When the massacre ended, as many as 300 Black people had been killed, and a 35-square-block area of Greenwood was destroyed.
Fletcher and Ellis visited Ghana in 2021, on the centennial of the massacre, one of the worst incidents of racist terror violence committed against Black Americans. During that visit, they were given royal Ghanaian names: Ellis was crowned a chief and called Bio Lantey, and Fletcher was crowned a queen mother and named Naa Lameley, meaning a strong person who stands the test of time.
On their trip, they also met Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, who approved the process for granting them Ghanaian citizenship and gave Fletcher a plot of land in the capital, Accra.
Meanwhile, the President had issued an invitation to members of the African diaspora to visit Ghana to mark the “Year of Return,” commemorating 400 years since the first Africans arrived in the Virginia colony. “This country is your country, and anyone who wants to come to reestablish, connect with us here, is welcome,” Akufo-Addo said in 2021.
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