Activists call for Lankford to step down from Commission

Mike Seals - January 18, 2021 10:23 am

There have been growing calls for Sen. James Lankford to step down from the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, and on Sunday, protesters rallied outside of his Oklahoma City office.

This stems from his plans to contest the electoral college vote. Lankford sent a letter to Black constituents in north Tulsa, apologizing for opposing election results. He said he didn’t realize how it could offend some in Black communities across the state.

“We wanted to show our friends in Tulsa that we in Oklahoma City see and hear them and are in solidarity with them,” local activist Jess Eddy said.

Eddy joined several Black leaders in Tulsa to call on Lankford to step down from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission for initially challenging election results.

KOCO 5 reached out to Lankford’s office but they referred us to his apology letter. In the letter, Lankford said in asking for more election information, he caused, “a firestorm of suspicion” among friends in Black communities around the state.

Lankford said he didn’t realize conversations about states like Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan were seen as “casting doubt on the validity of votes coming out of predominantly Black communities like Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit.”

Lankford added that “after decades of fighting for voting rights, many Black friends in Oklahoma saw this as a direct attack on their right to vote, for their vote to matter, and even a belief that their votes made an election in our country illegitimate.”

Lankford said he should’ve recognized how what he said could be interpreted and wrote, “I deeply regret my blindness to that perception and for that I am sorry.”

Some are not buying his apology.

“It was an apology when you say I’m sorry. But the letter was more of a defense of his actions than an apology and an acceptance of responsibility,” Eddy said.

Eddy said it was the apology that prompted Sunday’s protest.

“I think stepping down from the Tulsa Race Massacre (Commission) in the pale is not a very big consequence and I think one that’s simple and easy for him. It will show respect to Black leaders in Tulsa, to the Black community, to accede to their demands, their request and I think from there, then I think he can begin to learn to use this as a learning experience and maybe rebuild some of these damaged relationships,” Eddy said.

The Tulsa Race Massacre Commission responded to Lankford’s apology on their website, saying they appreciate his apology and continue to discuss the impact of recent actions on our missions and goals.


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