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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.
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.
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.
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.