TULSA, okla. – The 1921 Centuls Commission of the Tulsa Race Massacre has decided to keep US Senator James Lankford as commissioner.
The decision comes after a backlash to Lankford’s efforts to dispute the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The Commission issued a statement on Monday:
We are making this statement in response to questions about the status of Centennial Commission Senator Senator James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, following the January 6th Uprising in the Capitol and objections to voting certification.
At the request of Senator Lankford, the Centennial Commission offered him the opportunity to hear directly from its members and to share his view of these events. The Centennial Commission then decided to give members two weeks to ponder the matter before catching up and expressing their final thoughts.
At its core, the Centennial Commission is about reconciliation. In order to achieve this goal, we must continue to use our connective tissue – even if we are not absolutely in agreement. Senator Lankford is with us, despite clear differences (some of which are profound) on the importance of reconciliation and education for all citizens of the United States about Tulsa’s historic Greenwood District, famous Black Wall Street, including the massacre and its aftermath on Oklahoma and the nation.
The Centennial Commission is a firm believer in racial reconciliation and intergenerational healing. To do this, we need to further expand an olive branch. It is our duty to show our partners the way.
For these reasons, we resolve not to remove Senator Lankford from the Centennial Commission, but to accept his apology and reiterate his desire to reiterate his commitment to providing vital resources and opportunities to the Greenwood District, Black Tulsans and Black Americans Coast to coast.
Together with the help of the Senator we will:
Incorporate the history of Tulsa’s historic Greenwood District into curricula and state-required tests in Oklahoma.
Pass statewide law to facilitate field trips for Oklahoma students to Greenwood Rising and the surrounding historic community;
Make Oklahoma an official part of the United States Civil Rights Trail, with specific stops in some of the all-black cities.
Earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places for the Greenwood District.
At the national level, tell and advocate the history of the Greenwood District, especially in political spaces. and
Build bipartisan support for Greenwood Rising and the Centennial Commission’s other initiatives.
When it comes to differing opinions, we can achieve real reconciliation through mutual understanding, open dialogue, action and continuous learning. This is the ethos of unity represented by the Centennial Commission. For this reason, we must continue to work together despite missteps.
Please understand that the Centennial Commission did not come to this decision easily and it was not made without consulting the community.
We have taken into account the effects that result from this. We understood at the beginning that it would not be unanimous. Instead, we have sought consensus – a reasoned choice that any member of the Centennial Commission could support.
We are determined to honor Black Wall Street’s legacy, challenge bias, and seek healing.
In response to initial requests for his removal, Lankford wrote a letter to Black Tulsans with an apology.
State Senator Kevin Matthews, chairman and founder of the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission in 1921, responded to Lankford’s letter and thanked him for talking to the commission later.
“We all agree that the Centennial Commission’s primary focus must be on advancing its mission: educating people about the massacre, remembering victims and survivors, and creating a receptive environment for entrepreneurship and tourism in North Tulsa,” said Matthews .