Viola Fletcher is 109, and her memoir Don’t Let Them Bury My Story is about to come out August 15th, making her the oldest woman in the world to publish a memoir. In it, she recalls the night that became known as the Tulsa Massacre. On May 30, 1921, when Fletcher was only 7 years old, a white mob descended on the Greenwood district of Tulsa, OK, burning it to the ground and killing what the rest of the country called “Black Wall Street.”
“You know, I can still smell the smoke…the burning,” Fletcher said. “I remember the bodies. All the Black bodies in the street. The sound of the guns…they didn’t stop — I can still hear them.”
The Tulsa Massacre is one of many less talked about moments in U.S. history that overwhelmingly shows the contempt many have had for marginalized communities in this country. Memoirs like Fletcher’s not only bring more awareness to these moments, but also show the very personal, human toll they exacted.
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