Sen. Lankford Issues Open Letter: Tulsa Massacre

Mike Seals - June 1, 2020 11:51 am

Dear Oklahoma friends and neighbors:

Ninety-nine years ago—almost to the day, North Tulsa/Greenwood was on fire. Today, South Minneapolis is on fire. We have made great progress in the last century in innovation and technology, yet racial tension still exists.

People are hurting, crying out for peace, justice, and answers. This email is not an accusation; it is a call to personal action.

We have made real racial progress over the last 100 years. Our nation has many black law enforcement officers, business owners, elected officials, and community leaders. Segregation has ended, and our courts work to judge people based on the law and the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

Yet, it is clear that there is still work to be done in our nation to build trust, friendship, and common bonds. It is easy to watch TV and think that all this violence is far away, but I believe the violence should push each of us to ask ourselves…

“What can I do to listen, learn, and make relationships better across all races in my community and workplace?”

We cannot solve this problem by simply passing a law—it will only be solved when each of us, regardless of our race, personally reaches out to other people, stands up with compassion to injustice, and finally learns the ugly lessons of our past. Racism is a family issue before it is a national issue. But to our nation’s credit, we are working to address this stain on our country.

I have made it no secret that the message of Jesus changed my life and my perspective. This is a nation where people are free to have a faith, live their faith, or have no faith, and their voices are all heard equally in the public square. The Biblical passage from 2 Corinthians 5 challenges me when Paul wrote two thousand years ago, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” My faith teaches me that I should work for reconciliation. What do you believe?

On the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, in a nation that’s hurting from both the scars and fresh wounds of racism, we can choose to sit on the sidelines, or we can choose to make a difference—peacefully and intentionally.

Here’s my simple challenge: If you want to be part of the solution in America, start at the dinner table. Invite a family of another race to your home for a meal. I am amazed how many people I meet, of all races, in our great state who have never had a family of another race in their home for a meal. Break bread together over the dinner table, and have a real discussion. Understand the perspective of someone who does not look like you. Listen. Hear. Open your heart and your eyes to their experience. Every person in our county can move our conversation on race and understanding a little farther. It’s part of who we are. We can help solve things around our dinner tables together.

Whether you’re watching the news this weekend or reading history books, I challenge you to make a difference—peacefully, intentionally, and with the purpose of reconciliation. Let’s stop watching and waiting for the next innocent life to be lost. Let’s step up now.

In God We Trust,
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James Lankford
United States Senator for Oklahoma

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For the history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, you can view a conversation between Hannibal B. Johnson, a local author and attorney, and Lankford, which was filmed in North Tulsa at the Historic Vernon AME Church. CLICK HERE to watch the video. You can also take an in-depth look at the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre by watching a floor speech Lankford gave last year ahead of the 98th anniversary. 

 

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