Tulsa Race Massacre Commission Ousts Oklahoma GovernorBreaking News
tags: Oklahoma, public history, Tulsa race massacre
Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma has been ousted from a commission set up to commemorate the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, just days after he signed legislation that commission members said would undermine their goal of teaching the state’s painful history of racial discrimination.
In a statement on Friday, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission said its members had met on Tuesday and had “agreed through consensus to part ways” with Mr. Stitt, a Republican. The statement did not offer a reason but said that no elected officials or representatives of elected officials had been involved in the decision.
“While the Commission is disheartened to part ways with Governor Stitt, we are thankful for the things accomplished together,” the statement said. “The Commission remains focused on lifting up the story of Black Wall Street and commemorating the Centennial.”
Mr. Stitt’s office said in a statement that his role had been “purely ceremonial” and that he had not been invited to attend a meeting until this week.
Mr. Stitt was removed from the commission after he signed legislation on May 7 that would ban the teaching of certain concepts about race in Oklahoma schools, a measure that was seen as part of a larger conservative backlash to the teaching of “critical race theory.”
Commission members had vocally opposed the legislation, and one of them, State Representative Monroe Nichols, resigned from the panel on Tuesday, saying the governor’s signing of the bill had “cast an ugly shadow on the phenomenal work done during the last five years.”
“Governor Stitt has chosen to align himself with folks who want to rewrite or prohibit the full intellectual exploration of our history, which is in direct conflict with the spirit of the commission I joined several years ago,” Mr. Nichols, a Democrat, wrote in his resignation letter.
Phil Armstrong, the project director of the Centennial Commission, had also criticized the legislation, writing in a letter to Mr. Stitt that it “chills the ability of educators to teach students, of any age, and will only serve to intimidate educators who seek to reveal and process our hidden history.”