Mother Viola Fletcher, also known as Mother Fletcher, one of the last three remaining survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, turned 109 years old on Wednesday, reports KUTL.
At just 7 years old, Fletcher experienced one of the most heinous crimes ever committed against African Americans when the massacre took place. Along with her mother and three siblings, she hid under a pile of clothes in her home and escaped the vicious white mob who eventually took the lives of over 300 Black people. Following the tragedy, her family fled from Tulsa to start a new life after losing all they owned.
In 1932, she married Robert Fletcher and relocated to California during World War II. She worked in the shipyards, where she was an assistant welder and laid slabs of steel to build ships.
At the end of the war, the couple returned to Oklahoma and settled in the city of Bartlesville where they raised their three children. She retired at age 85.
In a previous interview with People, Fletcher spoke on the pride she feels as a Black woman. "I'll say that I'm Black and I'm proud," she said. "Nothing you can do about who you are, regardless of what you look like… We have the same red blood as other people."
When asked what was her secret to living such a long and full life in a 2014 interview, Fletcher had this to say: "We just do the things that are good for you. Sleeping and eating and exercising. It's no problem with me."
Happy Birthday, Mother Fletcher!