Published 06/14/2020 | Reading Time 6 min 21 sec
Editorial | By Nehemiah D. Frank, founder and editor in chief
President Donald Trump didn’t move his rally because he cares about Juneteenth — what should be a national holiday. He moved his hate rally from Friday to Saturday because he wants Black voters to support him in November.
Nevertheless, Trump already knows he’s going to lose the Black vote by a landslide. He’s not that dumb. So what’s his true reasoning for moving the rally?
I think it’s because he wants Black protesters to clash with law enforcement officers near the BOK Center because he knows it will make for a great spectacle for FOX News viewers — where much of his base gets their propaganda.
What better place than Tulsa to continue roaring “law and order” when Trump recreates Bloody Sunday and a softer version of the 1921 Race Massacre?
In a FOX News interview, Trump denied that he and his staff intentionally chose Juneteenth, which marks the end to American chattel slavery and Tulsa, site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, saying, “It’s an interesting date. It wasn’t done for that reason, but it’s an interesting date.”
His response is telling. He doesn’t know African American history, and he lacks total empathy for the Black American experience.
In Charlottesville’s, Trump called a group of White supremacist who clashed with anti-racist protestors “very fine people.” Later in an interview with ABC News, he doubled-down on his racially provocative comments defending Confederate sympathizers who “felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general,” the President said.
When Tulsa Public Schools had difficulty in deciding whether to change the name of confederate school buildings in Tulsa, I reached out to Bynum in hopes he’d vocalize his solidarity with Tulsa’s Black community. To be fair, he did.
In 2017, Bynum told the Oklahoma Observer, “No one wants to see Tulsa be the next Charlottesville. There’s not much we can do to fight against White Supremacists in America, but this is something we can do. We have control over whom we glorify. The solution? Hold a contest and have the Tulsa community vote for a new name, honoring a more respectable American hero.”
After all, the school received its name after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, to coincide with the 1918 national reunion of United Confederate Veterans and affiliated organizations. According to the Tulsa World, it attracted about 14,000 veterans and 40,000 visitors to the city. At that time, the school was an all-white elementary.
It was an exciting day in our city’s history when Lee School became Council Oak. It would be the first time we’d begin seeing cracks in the white supremacy and once Confederate stronghold of Tulsa. Children would learn about the first inhabitants of these lands.
Politically, there should be no partisanship with those who hold racist ideologies. Yet some public officials claiming to be pro-Black-lives fail at every opportunity to show their Black constituents solidarity and commitment toward ending racism.
When Mayor David Holt told Trump’s staff no to holding a rally in Oklahoma City, Trump’s team averted the rally to Tulsa. Yet somehow, amid a global pandemic — where large indoor crowds are highly discouraged, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum seemingly sits powerless as plans move forward for Trump’s coming less ethnically diverse assembly.
The last several weeks in America have been socially exhausting. The death of Ahmaud Arbery, followed by the police-shooting death of Breonna Taylor and the public strangulation/modern-day lynching of George Floyd, ignited racial tensions in America to an all-time high.
According to NPR, 88% of African Americans believe Trump has intensified racial tensions. Therefore, having the most racially divisive President in recent American history, Donald Trump, come to Tulsa — a city where 36 square blocks of what was once the western world’s most prosperous Black community that was bombed to total annihilation, atop the massacre of 300 black residents by an angry white racist mob, who then buried the dead in mass graves throughout the city — is horrifyingly disrespectful.
When Trump calls African countries “shithole” nations and refers to the homes of Nigerians as “huts,” — clearly racists rhetoric, why then is it diplomatically proper for Mayor Bynum to remain publically neutral and silent when he knows that whites after the destruction of Tulsa’s Black community mailed postcards as entertainment with an image of Greenwood burning and the words “Little Africa on Fire,” written on it?
Tulsa needs a mayor that is more dedicated to justice and equal treatment than to “law and order.” “Law and order,” means something entirely different to Black America than it does to White America.
Never have we needed a leader in this city to stare racism in its face and boldly declare publically that Trump isn’t welcome to Tulsa, for it would surely ease our own racial tensions as a city after he leaves. Bynum could begin repairing the broken trust that has taken place over the past several weeks. But I’m not holding my breath. I’m simply asking that he publicly take a stand against a racist President.
Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder, executive editor, and director of The Black Wall Street Times, digital news media company that believes access is the new civil right. He’s also a freelance writer, appearing in TIME Magazine, Tulsa People, and Tulsa World. Frank 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.