Viola Fletcher, a 108-year-old survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, has become a Ghanaian citizen alongside her 101-year-old brother, Hughes Van Ellis. The historic event took place on Tuesday, February 28, at Ghana’s embassy in Washington, where Fletcher and Ellis were formally sworn in as citizens of Ghana.
The ceremony was marked by lively music from African musicians and the energetic dancing of young children. It marked the first time that anyone had been sworn in as a citizen at the Ghana Embassy. “I’m so grateful to all. I thank you so much for this honor,” Fletcher, known as Mother Fletcher, said before signing her citizenship papers. Her brother echoed Fletcher. “I’m so thankful to Ghana, and all of you,” Ellis, known as Uncle Red, asserted.
Notable attendees at the ceremony included Oklahoma State Rep. Regina Goodwin, news personality Tiffany Cross, and Ambassador Erieka Bennett. Ambassador Bennett emphasized that being African is not defined by birthplace, but by one’s connection to the continent.
“You don’t have to be born in Africa to be an African,” the Ambassador declared. “Africa is born in you.”
Cross, the former MSNBC anchor, spoke of feeling the spirit of Africa and her ancestors in the room, while Goodwin expressed pride for Fletcher and Ellis’s survival as proof that the African spirit cannot be broken.
“This is what it’s all about,” Cross related. “The spirit of Africa, it’s powerful and rich history.”
Fletcher and Ellis’s acquisition of Ghanaian citizenship is a significant milestone in their long and remarkable lives. As survivors of one of the worst race massacres in American history, their journey to Ghana represents a symbolic homecoming and a powerful reminder of the resilience and perseverance of the African spirit.
The ceremony also highlighted the importance of recognizing the contributions of the African diaspora and their continued connection to the continent. As Africa continues to strive for unity and progress, Bennett said events like this serve as an inspiration to all those seeking to embrace their heritage and contribute to a brighter future for the continent.
“Ghana is so welcoming, and it is for everyone,” Bennett stated, concluding that she wanted all throughout the diaspora to know they can visit or even live there.
“Welcome home,” she said.
Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Senior national correspondent
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