Viola Ford Fetcher, Tulsa

‘History Personified’ Oldest Living Tulsa Massacre Survivor Publishes Memoir

109-year-old Viola Ford Fletcher is the oldest living survivor of the Tulsa Race massacre. After testifying before Congress to help make a case for reparations and call for accountability for the brutal attack on “Black Wall Street” in 1921, Fletcher has published a memoir about her life.

Don’t Let Them Bury My Story, published on Tuesday, July 4, is an inside look at the life of a woman who carried the brutality of America in her most intimate memories since the age of seven, according to the Associated Press. In graphic detail, Fletcher shares the events of the massacre in hopes of preserving the narrative that was nearly lost due to the refusal of historians to acknowledge the brutal violence that took place right here in the land of the free. “The questions I had then remain to this day,” Fletcher writes in the book. “How could you just give a mob of violent, crazed, racist people a bunch of deadly weapons and allow them — no, encourage them — to go out and kill innocent Black folks and demolish a whole community?”

Fletcher and her family were one of the families who managed to make it out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, alive.

“We passed piles of dead bodies heaped in the streets,” she writes in the book. “Some of them had their eyes open, as though they were still alive, but they weren’t.” Like many survivors of the massacre, Fletcher believed that recognizing what happened would open the door for proper reparations for those affected; however, the city of Tulsa has never sought to compensate its Black community. As a centenarian, Fletcher has lived through some of this country’s brightest and darkest days, but now she has lived to see her own historical account light up billboards in New York’s Times Square. It is her own way of assuring Black Wall Street is never forgotten.