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Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors Receive Ghanaian Citizenship at D.C. Ceremony

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Viola Fletcher, the 108-year-old survivor of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, and her 101-year-old brother, Van Ellis, acquired 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 February 2023. 

The citizenship ceremony in D.C. was 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.

“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,”  he declared.

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