On Oct. 9, the 102-year-old activist passed away in Denver, Colorado, reported CNN. Unfortunately, he was unable to receive reparations for what his family endured. As many know, from May 31 to June 1, 1921, a White supremacist mob committed one of the deadliest acts of violence in the U.S. near an area nicknamed Black Wall Street. They used guns, aerial bombings and arson to kill community members.
“He died waiting on justice,” the army veteran’s grandnephew, Ike Howard, said in an interview with CNN.
Unsurprisingly, the massacre created an uphill battle that negatively impacted Van Ellis and his family. Unable to get back to the life they knew before being pushed out of their home, they struggled, which is something he didn’t want anyone else to endure.
“I lost 102 years. I don’t want nobody else to lose that,” he told CNN back in June.
Throughout the rest of his life, Van Ellis fought for justice and made strides along with his sister, Viola Fletcher. Together, they shared their story with Congress about the burdens their families faced following the two-day tragedy. Their testimonies led President Joe Biden to commemorate May 31 as a day of remembrance.
“Please do not let me leave this earth without justice,” Van Ellis said at the time, per NPR.
“Mr. Hughes Van Ellis, 102, passed Mon. Oct. 9th at 11:30 am in Denver, Colorado. A loving family man, he was known as ‘Uncle Redd.’ He was among the three last known survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the most horrific acts of racist terrorism on American soil,” Goodwin’s statement began.
She continued, “A WWIl, war veteran, Mr. Ellis, bravely served America, even as he spent a lifetime awaiting atonement related to the Tulsa Race Massacre. Mr. Ellis was aware, that survivors, his sister Mrs. Viola Ford Fletcher, 109, Mrs. Lessie Benningfield Randle, 108, and family descendants were recently at our state capitol interim study focused on 2001 state commissioned reparation recommendations.”
After noting Van Ellis’ continuous fight for justice, Goodwin concluded her statement with, “The scripture of Jeremiah 6 reads ‘This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths; ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ We celebrate the rare life of Mr. Hughes Van Ellis who inspires us still!”