March 1, 2023.Washinton DC –
108- year-old Viola Fletcher, and her 101-year-old brother, Van Ellis, two of the three last-known living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre have received their Ghanaian citizenship at a solemn but impressive ceremony held by the Ghana Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture at the Ghana Embassy in Washinton DC. Over 150 influential members of the African American and Ghanaian Community in the USA attended the event.
In 2021, Fletcher, affectionately called “Mother Fletcher,” and Ellis, often called “Uncle Red,” traveled to Ghana for the first time where the country’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo conferred on them Ghanaian citizenship.
Welcoming the gathering, Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States of America, Hajia Alima Mahama recounted Ghana’s long standing history of Pan-Africanism and said the Country “continues to build bridges between the continent of Africa and Africans in the Diaspora in extraordinary ways”.
The CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Akwasi Agyeman, said the event was a perfect climax to the Black History Month celebration in the United States of America , highlighting Ghana’s Diaspora Pathways pillar as part of the Beyond the Return Project. “Your story of survival is an important imprint in the story of the African Americans in America. It is also a story that shows the resilience of the African spirit and on which we can stand to strengthen the bonds between Africa and its diaspora community”, he emphasised.
According to Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, he was hopeful the event ” will resonate and inspire others to make the journey back home to the motherland like mother Fletcher and Uncle Red did” ” I am looking forward to this ceremony opening new doors of engagement in tourism, trade and Investments amongst us as Africans and our brothers and sisters in the diaspora” . Dr Awal added that the Government of Ghana was committed tp creating an environment that will encourage diaspora investment, create jobs for the youth and enhance livelihoods.
Regina Goodwin, a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, responding on behalf of the family said “we are honored to be receiving Ghanaian citizenship for our priceless Black icons. Mother Fletcher and Uncle Red wanted to visit the Motherland before they caught their wings,” Godwin stated. “Now they have more than that. We thank the President and People of Ghana for this honour done to not just them, but the African American community in the United States”. Mother Fletcher and Van Ellis opted for Ghana due to it’s credentials as the hub of global diaspora engagement and the home of Pan Africanism.
Dignitaries who graced rhe ocassion included Ghanaian Musical icon, Rocky Dawuni, Hollywood Actress A.J Johnson, Ghana’s Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Hon. Cecelia Dapaah, Ike Howard, Grandson of Mother Fletcher, Akwasi Awuah Ababio, Director, Diaspora Affairs – Office of the President , Annabelle McKenzie, Director of the Beyond the Return Secretariat. Adwoa Asamoah, National Advisor for Black Engagement for the Biden-Harris campaign, Jasmine Young, Director of Warner Music/Blavatnik Center for Music Business at Howard University, Maxwell Edusei, CEO the African Loom