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In reviewing the Confederate Soldier’s Surname on a Tulsa Public School

Published: Last Updated on

OPINION | By Executive Editor Nehemiah D. Frank 

Two weeks ago, my heart rebelled against God. I had briefly lost faith in humanity. My worst fears concerning this society were seemingly becoming a reality that the state, of race relations in Tulsa, as it socially exists, was as indecent as it possibly could exhibit.

However, “to err is human; to forgive, divine.” I can pardon those that voted against my ancestors’ ability to merely exist in history as human beings because forgiveness allows me to live a healthy life. 

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Last week I had the privilege of sitting down with a board member who voted in favor of keeping the name out of respect for the individuals who live in the Lee District. It was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my life.

We approached one another as human beings. I sat at a table across from an American who looked different from me and allowed myself to become vulnerable with the hope of reaching the heart.

Nonetheless, I was little late because the individual bared the courage to read the reproachful article I had published. The one with their face digitally plastered on a Confederate flag, which I later disclosed how I didn’t want to call my fellow human being out in such an indicative way. I even prayed to God that the digital picture and charged racialize article would bring the individual no harm, but serve as a simple yet innovative way of saying you’re hurting me and challenging my very humanity by allowing such a vote in this era of modernity to pass. 

To break the ice, I informed the person sitting across from me about my history in hopes of them feeling more comfortable about the much needed difficult conversation of race. I disclosed that my great, great, great grandfather father, too, was a Confederate soldier. Hence, I would not exist if the Confederacy never seceded. Although I unapologetically claim myself as a black American, embedded within my very existence is the 20-percent French DNA you don’t see. And with the quickness, I will always disavow the sins of my Confederate ancestor who fought against the very humanity of what would become his, own, flesh and blood.

We ended our conversation with a hug, and we both walked away with an evolved perspective.

We are in this together as Americans, as Tulsans, as human beings.

We owe our future generations a real-life and authentic promised land.

Charged we are in fulfilling the mission of Dr. King.

In closing, as I pondered this period of what is becoming American history, I thought about the fact that Lee School sits on South Cincinnati and just a few miles north over the bridge, across the Frisco railroad tracks, Cincinnati turns into MLK Blvd.

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We need our brave white brothers and sisters to pull the dream across the bridge and close this gap of racial injustice and inequality in this city.

With that said, I pray we become the example, the city, that inspires the nation to positive change.


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Nehemiah D. Frank is the Founder & Executive Editor of the Black Wall St. Times.  Frank graduated from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL in General Studies,  and  earned a Political Science degree from Oklahoma State University. He is a community activism, a  teacher at Sankofa School of the Performing Arts, a blogger for Education Post, and dedicates most of his time to empowering and uplifting his community of North Tulsa, home to America’s Black Wall Street. Frank is a 2017 Terence Crutcher Foundation Honoree and the Community Impact Award recipient for the MET Cares Foundation and has been featured on NBC, Blavity, and Tulsa People. His latest accolade includes a TEDx Talk at the University of Tulsa.

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