Senate Takes Next Step in Creation of State’s Civil Rights Trail

Ponca City Now - March 11, 2024 4:56 pm

Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City and Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, has won Senate passage for his bill taking the next step in creating Oklahoma’s Civil Rights Trail. Senate Bill 1356, co-authored by Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, provides $1.5 million for the revolving fund, which will ultimately include federal dollars as well as gifts and donations for development of the trail. Legislation creating the framework was approved in the 2023 session and signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt. Matthews said SB 1356 will enable the project to move forward.

“The Civil Rights Trail will highlight our state’s Black towns, as well as Native American sites of historic significance,” Matthews said. “These communities and sites are part of Oklahoma’s identity, and the trail will shine a light on that history, the importance to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, and inspire future generations. This will help us educate our own citizens about that history and will also attract tourism dollars from across the country and around the world. This is an investment that will benefit our entire state.”

Matthews said the Oklahoma Civil Rights Trail will begin at Standing Bear Park, Museum and Education Center in Ponca City, then proceed to the site of the 1920s “Osage Reign of Terror,” in Fairfax. The trail will continue through the state’s all Black communities, including Boley; Brooksville; Clearview; Grayson; Langston; Lima; Red Bird; Rentiesville; Summit; Taft; Tatums; Tullahassee; and Vernon. The trail then moves to Greenwood Rising and the Pathway to Hope, in Tulsa, before ending at the Clara Luper Center, to be built in Oklahoma City.

SB 1356 now moves to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City, is the principal author, with co-author, Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City.

“I want to thank my fellow members of the Senate for their overwhelming support of SB 1356. I also want to thank my Senate co-author, Senator Coleman, along with Representatives Luttrell and Lowe, who were instrumental in passing the original legislation and are continuing that work with this year’s bill,” Matthews said. “This has truly been a bipartisan effort from the start, and I hope the House will move quickly to support this measure so we can get it to the governor’s desk and make Oklahoma’s Civil Rights Trail a reality.”

Rep. Ken Luttrell R-Ponca City and Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City.




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