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2020 1st Congression District candidate for U.S. Congress to represent Oklahoma Kojo Asamoa-Caesar delivers a speech at Fulton Street books and coffee in Tulsa, Oklahoma announcing platform as ‘America’s Promise’. 

Published 12/15/2019 | Reading Time 5 min 30 sec 

By Nehemiah D. Frankfounder, director, and executive editor 

America is at a crossroads. The nation’s two major political parties couldn’t be more polarized. Dailey talk shows, usually filled with the latest celebrity gossip, are talking politics.

Schoolchildren throughout the United States (U.S.) witness, experience, and receive a civics lesson in real-time during, and even after, school hours — as the nation’s 45th president, Donald J. Trump, faces impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Conspiracy theorist talking points of a possible civil war showdown appear a bit more realistic when politicians look past solid facts, accepting and ignoring unpresidential behavior coming from the White House. Moreover, times appear unnormal when veteran politicians, who swore an oath to serve their constituents, choose party over country in fear they may lose the support of the President and risk their reelections.

At the state level, first-time Democratic candidates prepare for U.S. congressional runs, while Republican incumbents brace for another possible impact of a potential blue wave, as witnessed in 2018 within the U.S. House of Representatives.

Inside the borders of Trump country in a state where every county lit the scoreboard red — voting for then-presidential candidate Trump in 2016 — a God-fearing Democratic hopeful faces a Goliath-Republican incumbent, Kevin Hern, who has seemingly endless campaign funding in Oklahoma’s 1st congressional district.   

Kojo Asamoa-Caesar — the son of African immigrants, a law graduate of William and Mary (America’s second-oldest university), an educator turned principal, and the former director of a thriving business hub for entrepreneurs in Oklahoma’s second-largest city — is vying for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

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“I’m a person of faith,” he said in a crowded room of supporters at Fulton Street, his family-owned bookstore, on a Saturday evening in mid-December. 

He added, “When you look at our country and see so many people cut off from ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ I admit that it can start to feel like those words are empty.”

Asamoa-Caesar expressed how the promise, written within the U.S. Constitution 243 years ago, appears as an unreachable destination for so many Americans today. 

“We recognize that our founders, the very people who authored and signed their names to those words, engaged in actions that were in direct opposition to them,” Asamoa-Caesar stated. 

In 1776 America, and even after, indigenous Americans faced genocide. Those who lived were forcibly displaced as far east as the Oklahoma Territory. Asamoa-Caesar hopes to represent some of their descendants in the 117th U.S. Congress. Before 1863, 5 million Black Americans were unable to experience and appreciate the same rights that were afforded to America’s founding fathers due to their ascribed status as chattel slaves. Prior to 1919, half of the nation’s population was disenfranchised; women didn’t have the right to vote. 

“Although our reality didn’t match our ideals at the founding, those words, etched in the stone of our founding document, gives us the opportunity to work towards making them real. Those words are a covenant between the United States of American and We the People. Today, I am glad that those words were inscribed at all because it means we can bring them to life,” he declared.

Since the launch of his congressional campaign in November 2019, Asamoa-Caesar has been on tour in Oklahoma’s 1st congressional district, which includes urban and rural areas. 

Kojo Asamoa-Caesar

2020 1st Congression District candidate for U.S. Congress to represent Oklahoma Kojo Asamoa-Caesar delivers a speech at Fulton Street books and coffee in Tulsa, Oklahoma announcing platform as ‘America’s Promise’. 

He shared four impressionable encounters he had with Oklahomans residing within the district and what they face.

Angelina, an indigenous Comanche American 

“At a session on Missing and Murdered Indigenous persons, I met a 16-year old named Angelina, a member of the Comanche Nation. She shared the story of her cousin, who went missing and about how the authorities who failed at every step of the way to provide meaningful assistance. And she wasn’t alone, many family members got up, and they shared stories about daughters and sisters and aunties who have been lost to the crisis of murdered and missing and indigenous people in their community. She also shared the lack of help and even outright hostility that they experienced from those who are supposed to protect and serve them. Angelina is now a black belt in martial arts, not because it was a fun hobby she picked up as a teenager in her spare time, but because she fears for her safety, and she now feels soul responsibility to protect herself because she can’t trust that adults will.” 

Carrie, a U.S. Navy Veteran 

“At a meeting of the Oklahoma Democratic Disability Federation, I met Carrie — a middle-aged White woman and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. Karri lives with multiple disabilities, and as a result, went from having a job that paid well over $70,000 a year to one that pays just $28,000. She shared stories of working jobs where the buildings weren’t accessible to her; how she was forced to park blocks away while abled bodied men in upper management had parking spaces right outside the front door. She shared how when the handicapped parking spot was available, and she was able to park there how people would glare at her. And they would say stuff like you’re not disabled you’re just fat and lazy. All this and other experiences have animated her passion to work as an activist, fighting for people with disabilities, not only to achieve a higher quality of life but live with dignity.”

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Iracema, an immigrant and future American

 “At a citizenships workshop at the YWCA, I met Eresma, a working-class mother who immigrated from Mexico two decades ago and now lives in north Tulsa. We spent nearly two hours going through all of her documentation, work history, tax returns, as we filled out government forms to help her become a U.S. citizen. I was blown away by the story that all of her paperwork told. Here was a woman who has raised six kids, and now a grandchild added to the mix, with a household income below the poverty level, even as she works a full-time job. She has been so resourceful in managing her family’s budget and making sure the kids have clothes and school supplies so they can be their best at school. Her resilience in the face of the difficulties she faces every day and her enduring hope in spite of it all filled my cup and inspired me beyond measure.”

Terence Jr, a Black second-grade boy 

“A week ago today, at around the same time, I attended a lecture at the historic Vernon A.M.E. church in Greenwood, given by Jeffrey Robinson, legal director of the ACLU. He chronicled 400 years of White Supremacy and Racism in America and our need to reckon with our nation’s racist past — if we’re going to have any chance to create a better present and future. There, a Black boy in the second grade came and sat next to me in the pew. We shook hands, and he said, ‘Hi, Mr. AC.’ I said, ‘I Terence, I hope all is well.’ Terence is a former student of mines; he and the rest of the Crutcher family had just returned to the sanctuary after being asked to step out during the airing of a video that showed the shooting of Terence’s dad. In the video, Terence Sr. is seen walking back slowly to his car with his hands in the air. And police follow him with guns drawn, and a police helicopter looks on from above. An officer in the helicopter can be heard saying, that looks like a bad dude. Right, before officers shoot and kill Terence Sr. ‘I hope all is well.’ That is what I said to Terence Jr. a week ago today. But, I know all is not well. We can’t just speak well into being. We have to act in order to make things well,” Asamoa-Caesar declared.

He added, “If I might be as bold as to build on what Dr. [Martin Luther] King said, I believe the right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ amount to more than just a dream. In fact, I’ve come to see them amounting to something like a promise. So that’s the platform I’m running on America’s Promise.”

The ambitious candidate’s powerful speech lasted about 32 minutes and was packed with compelling stories that debunk this false sense that America is becoming great again.

Nehemiah Frank

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder, executive editor, and director of The Black Wall Street Times, a digital news media company that believes access is the new civil right. He graduated with a general studies degree from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL, and a political science degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and was a member and chapter president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. Today, he is a blogger for Education Post, based in Chicago, IL, and a board member for the Tulsa World, Tulsa Press Club, and Tulsa’s Table. He is also a public school educator at a local community-led charter school and is a member of Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s Education Task Force for Equity and Inclusion. In 2017, Frank became a Terence Crutcher Foundation honoree, a recipient of the 2017 METCares Foundation Community Impact Award, a 2018 Black Educators Fellow and gave a TED Talk at the University of Tulsa.

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...

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