Hughes Van Ellis, one of the last three survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, died at 102 on Monday, October 9, according to Oklahoma Democratic Rep. Regina Goodwin, who spoke on behalf of his family.
Known affectionately as “Uncle Redd,” Ellis was a WWII war veteran and a symbol of resilience in the face of racial adversity. Goodwin remarked, “He bravely served America, even as he spent a lifetime awaiting atonement related to the Tulsa Race Massacre, which occurred between May 31 and June 1, 1921, when White mobs violently attacked Black residents, destroying over 35 square blocks of the prosperous Greenwood District, known as “Black Wall Street.”
Goodwin, a staunch advocate for reparations for race massacre survivors, emphasized Ellis’ unwavering commitment to the cause. “Two days ago, Mr. Ellis urged us to keep fighting for justice,” Goodwin noted. “In the midst of his death, there remains an undying sense of right and wrong. Mr. Ellis was assured we would remain steadfast, and we repeated to him, his own words, ‘We Are One,’ and we lastly expressed our love.”
Van Ellis leaves behind his sister Viola Fletcher and Lessie Randle as the last known living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Ellis’ death was deeply mourned by the Diaspora African Forum (DAF), which fondly referred to him as Uncle Redd.