The Tulsa massacre took place 100 years ago, but it’s still clearly ingrained in the minds of survivors Viola Fletcher and Lessie Benningfield Randle.
In a CBS News special airing on May 31 at 10 p.m. ET, the centenarians described the affluent neighborhood of Greenwood, known at the time as “Black Wall Street,” before it was destroyed by a White mob in a two-day attack that resulted in about 300 deaths.
“We had friends and played outside and visited with neighbors and was happy there with our parents. Just loved being there,” Fletcher, 107, told “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King, who anchored “Tulsa 1921: An American Tragedy.”
Benningfield Randle, 106, painted a similar picture of life in Greenwood before the attack.
“It was getting to be a pretty nice place,” she recalled. “They had theater and they had other places of recreation, and they had churches.”
But between May 31 and June 1, 1921, the neighborhood was burned down and destroyed.
“They came in and tore it all down,” Benningfield Randle said.
To hear more stories from survivors and descendants of Tulsa massacre victims, watch “Tulsa 1921: An American Tragedy” Monday, May 31 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.