Judge rules Tulsa massacre reparations lawsuit can proceed for the three remaining victims

I learned about the Tulsa race massacre in graduate school and I was shocked that my previous education had failed me, but I realized it wasn't just me. Turns out that most students didn't learn about the history of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street and the atrocities that occurred to set the residents back. Surprisingly, even students in Oklahoma didn’t learn about what happened in the bustling, prosperous Black community in 1921. Just over 100 years ago, an angry white mob descended on Tulsa’s Greenwood District, the small Black community that had amassed wealth in the 56 years following the Emancipation Proclamation being signed. The community was entirely self-sufficient with its own barber shop, bank, grocery store, newspaper and school. There were even doctors and real estate agents, which allowed the community to exist without needing to depend on outsiders.

When the white mob came to town, they burned the entire community to the ground and killed around 300 people, historians surmised. The city lay in ruins for years as the state focused on building up the more predominantly white areas and refused to allocate resources. Insurance companies wouldn't pay out claims to rebuild the once thriving community. Residents of Greenwood felt the effects of this for generations. Today, there are three surviving members of Black Wall Street—Lessie Benningfield Randle, 107, Viola Fletcher, 107, and Hughes Van Ellis, 101—and a judge just ruled that their lawsuit seeking reparations can proceed.


This is a huge victory for the three because not only will they see justice in their lifetime, it will finally be monetary recognition of the generational setbacks Black people endured. Reparations is always a prickly subject to delve into, because we’ve been told our entire lives that if you want to make it in America, everyone has the same opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. As a result, people feel that descendants of the enslaved, including the last three Tulsa massacre survivors, are getting something undeserved without work.

Reparations is something that was promised from the beginning to help level the playing field. Most people understand that property is an investment and a way to create generational wealth. Enslaved African Americans were promised up to 40 acres of land per family after being freed but the land was ordered to be returned by Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's successor. Returning the land allowed white citizens and slave owners the ability to continue to create generational wealth, the effects of which can still be felt today. There have been other instances that play into the racial wealth gap in America such as redlining, Jim Crow, mass incarceration and so on, so the possibility of at least the survivors getting reparations is a reason to celebrate.

If the three elderly Tulsa Massacre survivors win their case, it will not only provide reparations for them, but for their descendants as well. Civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons told the Associated Press, “We want them to see justice in their lifetime,” as he choked back tears. “I’ve seen so many survivors die in my 20-plus years working on this issue. I just don’t want to see the last three die without justice. That’s why the time is of the essence.”

The court room was packed and cheers echoed in the chambers when the judge ruled the case could move forward. Winning this case would not only be justice for the survivors but a positive moment in history to witness.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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