The last three living Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors now have $1 million thanks to an out of state donor.
108-year-old Viola Fletcher, 107-year-old Lessie Randle and 101-year-old Hughes Van Ellis were presented with a $1 million shared gift at the Greenwood Cultural Center.
Ed Mitzen said he felt compelled to give a significant donation to the survivors after he read an article regarding the Tulsa Race Massacre survivors in The Washington Post. The article was written by DeNeen L. Brown, an Oklahoma native, award-winning journalist and documentarian.
“It seemed to me, reading the article, that certain powers here are just trying to run out the clock,” said Mitzen.
While the survivors continue to fight for reparations, Mitzen said he hopes this gift not only helps the survivors, but their families too.
“We just feel so incredibly blessed to be in a position where we can help make people’s lives a bit easier," said Mitzen.
Ike Howard is Viola Fletcher's grandson. Howard reflected on giving the news to the survivors.
“I said, 'Uh, you’re going to get a million-dollar gift.' And they said, 'Oh my God. Are you serious? Stop playing with me. Are you serious?'” said Howard.
He said the money will help give the survivors freedom.
“It’s going to change quite a few lives. And like I say, personally for them, what it ensures is that they’re able to do whatever they want to do. You know what I’m saying? And the list is long. The list is long," said Howard.
Both Mitzen and Howard hope this encourages people to step up and create an impact for others.
"A movement of gratitude and giving, it means so much to me when I make a difference in someone else’s life,” Ed Mitzen said of his foundation. “If I could inspire that action in others, no matter how small the gesture, it would make an immeasurable impact in the world around us.”
Howard said they're thankful for the gift.
"Everybody knows right from wrong and when you know right, you know good, and you do good. And this man chose to do good from the bottom of his heart," said Howard.