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Tulsa pastor gives ‘reparations’ to massacre survivors, calls on churches to take the lead

Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis, Lessie Randle, Michael Todd
Transformation Church Pastor Michael Todd (L) thanks the only three living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre for "surviving the devastation" of the riot on Sunday, June 20, 2021. The survivors (seated from left to right) are Viola Fletcher, 107; Hughes Van Ellis, 100; and Lessie Randle, 106. |

Transformation Church Pastor Michael Todd in Bixby, Oklahoma, called on churches across America to take the lead on the issue of reparations as he presented $200,000 checks to each of the only living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre during a moving sermon on Sunday.

The Tulsa Race Massacre, according to History.com, occurred over 18 hours from May 31 to June 1, 1921. A white mob attacked residents, homes and businesses in the predominantly black Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, leaving hundreds dead and thousands homeless. It is one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history.

“Reparation is not a political word. Reparation is not a word that your left-wing friends or your right-wing friends have coined," Todd said. "Let me give you the definition of reparations. ‘The action of repairing something that was devastated.’ Reparations mean that somebody is going to take up the mantle and actually put into action the process of repairing something that was destroyed."

He then quoted Joel 2:25, which says: “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.”

He stressed that God will bring reparations and said God told him that the controversial process must start in the Church. And since he is a part of the Church, Todd said he has to be a part of the reparations process.

“Reparations is not coming from them,” he said, referring to the government.

“I told the team. I said, 'Find me every living survivor that survived this [Tulsa race] massacre.' And they began to search. And I said the most devastating thing that was stolen from people were their homes. And I said, 'How in the world do you rebuild when you go to sleep on a Thursday, and on the Friday, all your memories, all your life savings, everything that you build your life for is in rubble in front of you. And you got to go to the fairgrounds and stay on cots and try to rebuild your life from ashes?'” he asked. “I read in the Bible where it says God is the only one that gives beauty from ashes.”

Todd then announced the presence of all three of the living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre — Viola Fletcher, 107; Hughes Van Ellis, 100; and Lessie Randle, 106.

“Thank you for living a life that survived the devastation,” Todd said. “Thank you for appearing before Congress. Thank you.

“I’m a young black man who took over a church from a white man who built it in North Tulsa. That couldn’t have happened if you all didn’t survive. Today, we can’t restore everything that has been stolen from you. But today, we can put a seed in the ground,” he told the survivors.

He said his church decided on giving the survivors $200,000 each after researching the median price of a house in Tulsa.

“It’s reparations season, and change starts in the Church,” he declared to cheers.

Transformation Church gave away a total of $1 million to the massacre survivors and nonprofit organizations Sunday. This includes a $100,000 check to AJ Johnson, owner of Oasis Fresh Market, which provides fresh fruits and other groceries to an underserved community.

The church also donated $50,000 to the Terrance Crutcher Foundation, $50,000 to Build in Tusla, $100,000 to One Race Movement and $100,000 to Greenwood Cultural Center. 

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