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Community Letters and Statements Asking for Okla. U.S. Sen. James Lankford’s Resignation from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission
Dear Senator James Lanford,
I am happy that you were unharmed during the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6th. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Capitol police officer who lost his life defending you and your colleagues.
I am emailing to call on you to resign from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission for your complicity in fueling the very same ignorance and white rage that lead to the 1921 Tulsa
Race Massacre in the first place.
While I am happy that you withdrew your objection, the fact that it took the Capitol being stormed and you coming face to face with the very beast you insist on feeding in a way that endangered your life, shows that you never fully understood or respected the history of what happened here in Tulsa.
As a young Black man born in Tulsa, learning about the massacre, Jim Crow and even the rise of fascism in Europe were not merely matters of history or ideology for me, they were matters of survival.
For Black and people of color in America, the phrase “history repeats itself” isn’t a saying, it’s a warning and call for constant vigilance. White mobs massacring towns, overthrowing governments and threatening public safety is what comes to mind when we hear that phrase. Watching those terrorists descend on the Capitol and watching Trumpism, in general, grow over the last 4 years has been like watching a movie we have seen too many times before.
So understand me when I say, the white rage and ignorance that attacked the Capitol is the very same beast that caused the 1921 Race Massacre, the Red Summer and countless other atrocities, and you fed it by perpetuating lies.
That is why you must resign.
It is the privilege of white men in power to attempt to tame for benefit or downplay the danger of a beast that is hungry for blood that isn’t their own, and that is exactly what you have done.
You perpetuating lies fed Trumpism, a beast you may have seen was dangerous but thought was too politically expedient to kill. This is the same beast that devoured my ancestors, seeks to devour my people, and oddly enough, nearly devoured you.
It is deeply disappointing that it took a threat on your life to prompt a change in direction. I wish no lives had been lost on Jan. 6th. I wish this attempted insurrection had not taken place. However, I am glad you were forced to come to terms with what you have fed.
For just one day, you were forced to feel the fear and danger that my people and other minorities have felt watching Trumpism grow as a movement these past four years.
Our fear was not partisan, it was rooted in historical trauma.
The fact that you did not recognize this beast, and worse, the fact that you fed and helped free it means that you are not the kind of person who should be serving on a commission commemorating the horrific events of 1921.
If our Republic doesn’t survive this fiasco, you will have been, intentionally or not, complicit in its fall. You cannot continue to serve on a commission commemorating a tragedy after being an accomplice to and championing the very same sentiments that led to said tragedy in the first place, even if it was not entirely clear to you at the time.
You and I have met on several occasions (once at Tulsa Community College and once during community meetings) and while I have never agreed with much of your politics, I always admired your statesman-like conduct. I know you to be a good and respectable man (which I appreciate, regardless of political affiliation), but you have erred in a way that only your resignation can atone for.
I am glad you are safe, and pray you have the moral fiber to do what is right for our country and remain safe from the dangerous base you have been stoking when you do. I pray that this experience makes you wiser and that you continue to fight for racial justice in Oklahoma in other ways.
Do the right thing.
Resign, apologize and work to neutralize this beast before it devours our republic.
Tyrance Billingsley II from Tulsa, Oklahoma
To the 1921 Race Riot Commission,
When a leader who is entrusted by the people to represent the people knowingly lies, the leader breaks their oath to the people and disqualifies themselves from leadership. The 1921 Race Massacre Commission is all about telling the truth. The stages of reconciliation include: truth-telling, apology and atonement. Mr. Langford has proven, before the entire nation, to be willing to participate in a lie that diminished the trust and faith in our democracy.
The 1921 Tulsa massacre was started by a lie, was covered up with lies and many died and lost everything due to lies. One hundred years later, Mr. Langford’s lie to the nation sparked another mob into violence that lead to death and destruction. The honorable thing for him to do is to step down from the commission. If he will not, I would support and recommend he be asked by the other commissioners, or by whoever is the appropriate body, to leave.
It is a high honor to serve on this commission and his behavior has left our community divided. In the interest of unity and reconciliation, Mr. Lankford should be thanked for his contributions to the commission and then resign.
Senior Minister Rev. Marlin Lavanhar from Tulsa, Oklahoma
To the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission,
In a world that is rapidly experiencing a crisis, our words, actions, and intentions trigger negative emotions and can cause trauma. Some crises happen by fate, and others unexpectedly. We should all try to avoid trauma from these experiences. In my opinion, Senator James Lankford’s support for Donald Trump over the past four years holds more weight than Lankford’s decision to not object to President Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre was a traumatic experience that negatively affected hundreds of Black Tulsans for many generations. We need commissioners that have Black Tulsans’ best interest in mind. Based on the helicopter view of Lankford’s beliefs, his open support for Donald Trump’s rhetoric, and political self-interest, I do not support Lankford’s position on the 1921 Race Massacre Commission.
Thank you for considering my input.
T’erra Estes from Tulsa, Oklahoma
“The Jim Crow Era institutionalized White supremacy and led to compounding traumas that have reverberated throughout the lives of Black Americans for generations. The senator’s continued involvement with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission would be acutely disrespectful to the victims and descendants of the massacre. We demand Senator James Lankford resign from the commission immediately. Restorative justice is not possible if we choose to placate White elected officials who only portray themselves as allies when they feel it is politically expedient.”
Nehemiah D. Frank from Tulsa, Oklahoma
“To use the words like ‘any perceived racism’ — we’re in 2021 now,” said Greg Robinson II, an organizer and former candidate for Tulsa mayor who is among those who have called for Mr. Lankford and other Republicans to step down. “There has been generations upon generations of systemic racism that has been protected by the sort of white moderate rhetoric that we hear out of white politicians, especially white conservative Republicans.”
Words are not enough. As I’ve said before, Senator Lankford must either remove himself from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission or be removed.
Greg Robinson II said in The New York Times
“Senator Lankford peddled a set of dangerous lies with regard to the 2020 elections and, in doing so, played a central role in the riot we saw Wednesday. The Senator aligned himself with Confederate Flag waving traitors and a President so consumed with retaining power he incited an attack on the Congress of the United States. As citizens, we are owed truth and faithfulness to our country from our elected officials. What we got from our junior senator is falsehoods and, as Senator Inhofe put it, a violation of his oath of office. Senator Lankford has proven that he believes lies and political expediency are far more important than facts and patriotism – he does not belong in high office or on a commission honoring the victims of the 1921 massacre. He should resign from both.”
State Representative Monroe Nichols (OK-72)
“Every day since the assault on the United States Capitol, Senator Lankford has decided to repeatedly abdicate his duty to the people of Oklahoma by hiding behind his tepid repudiation of domestic terrorism. I, along with countless other Oklahomans, watched with disgust as our senator attempted to gaslight the American people with pearl-clutching outrage. Just hours after he stood on the floor of Congress using racist precedent to pander to the President, he expected us to believe he was surprised by the riot he helped incite. I call on all current and former elected officials and concerned citizens to join in demanding Senator James Lankford resign from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission.”
Former Oklahoma State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre
“While we are thankful that our Republican Senators and Congressional Representatives are safe, we recognize that their public stance and comments helped fuel the flames of insurrection. The actions of Senator Lankford and Representatives Mullen, Hern, Bice, Lucas and Cole have promulgated a lie being spread by a deeply flawed man who we have as President for another few days. They are not leaders. They are following the lead of the wrong person and, as a result, have blood on their hands today.”
Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairwoman Alicia Andrews
When pro-Trump loyalists ransacked the United States Capitol, a riotous insurrection interrupting your speech, you were moved to an “undisclosed location” for many hours. I can’t imagine what that was like, but it seems those harrowing hours led you to recant your call for a 10-day delay of certifying the electoral college vote and a commission to investigate voter fraud claims.
While shards of glass shattered by pro-Trump rioters and looters were still being swept up in the capitol building, however, you and your staff sent an email to me and thousands of Oklahomans with more than 5,000 words about voter fraud. Rather than apologizing for your complicity and commonality with those perpetrating violence and death in the Capitol, you couldn’t stop pedaling lies as truth. Even after seeing how those repeated lies led thousands of the electorate to historic and seditious acts, even on the floor of the senate, you persisted.
You know full well that Congress has no authority to overturn the election. You know that more than sixty court cases rejected the notion of widespread voter fraud. The electorate, however, doesn’t always perceive the difference between election irregularities and unproven conspiracy theories. As your colleague Sen. Mitt Romney said, voters need you to tell them the truth. Why then do you continue to focus on unsubstantiated widespread voter fraud?
Senator Lankford, the November 3, 2020 election was one of the most secure in American history, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. I believe you already know that. These past few years, you worked against voter fraud. Rather than celebrating this breakthrough against voter suppression of people of color, however, you chose to join the wrong side of history with President Donald Trump. Certainly, you understand that your cover of voter security is as old as Jim Crow and one of the most used against people of color in American history. Your colleagues in the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Commission are calling for you to step down from the Commission. Some Oklahomans are calling for you to step down from the US Senate.
I want you to know I’m praying for you and glad you and the other senators and house members are safe now. I’m also grateful to those brave law enforcement officers who kept you and your colleagues safe. I’m sad that at least five persons have died as a result of the insurrectionists’ actions. I know you share the same sentiments.
Senator Lankford, I’m choosing to write to you because, like you, I am also a former pastor and a follower of Jesus. I’m writing to you specifically because I view you as humble and able to change your mind. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, on the other hand, has joined a loyalist band who will apparently fulfill Donald Trump’s prophesy that he could (nearly and literally) shoot someone on the street with the support of people like Mullin. Mullin equivocated about the events of January 6, “No one is to blame here. We are all to blame,” according to the Tulsa World.
If that’s true, then no one or everyone should be held accountable for seditious acts. Specific parties are responsible for the attempted coup at the capitol on January 6.
You were attempting to blockade the same electoral college certification the seditious mobs who interrupted your speech tried to stop. Will you not take this interruption as a sign to disavow the president completely? President Donald Trump stoked and encouraged violent overthrow of the legislature for the most narcissistic of reasons–for his own glorification and power, regardless of the cost of lives. When you play into a demagogue’s evil, do you not become complicit with those destructive ways? The responsibility for this lay at the feet of President Trump first, and those who support this dangerous President, a close second. You still have time to disavow your support of a president before part of your legacy will be doggedly complying with the most dangerous president in American history.
Please do not continue downplaying the responsibility in the oldest and most coy of ways, saying the “Lankford and Daines Statement on Electoral Vote Certification” that “actions at the Capitol are indefensible and not supported by the vast majority of Trump supporters.” This is circular logic. Supporters of Trump, like you, have tried for five years to pick and choose what you support and do not support in this erratic administration. The location you have chosen so far is to continue supporting Trump, which implies you are complicit with the desecration of the very constitution you say you uphold. It’s past time for you to disavow support of Trump, to make clear your “undisclosed location,” and take the awful lumps that some radicalized Trump supporters will undoubtedly heap on you–as they have on Sen. Lindsey Graham. It may cost you dearly in your political life, but I believe you will also be surprised how many Oklahomans–of all parties or no party–would support you in this.
While people in our state continue to die from COVID-19 in increasing numbers, record high after record high, why would you continue to waste our time and tax dollars fanning the flames of insurrection? You say in your January 7th letter that Trump’s legal team didn’t have enough time to find evidence of voter fraud and you cite anecdotes that still don’t amount to widespread evidence of voter fraud that could ever overturn this election. The problem is not lack of time but a lack of evidence. What we as Oklahomans now have evidence of is your complicity in the president’s not-so-peaceful transfer of power.
I believe there are many Oklahomans like me who would rather see elected officials’ time spent on helping us survive this pandemic. I’m looking forward to a new national leadership that will not lie to us but tell us the truth, that will not endanger lives but save lives. I don’t think you have to be obstructionist and obstinate to lead. Stir up the moral courage to tell the truth that leads to a nation and a world that may flourish.
Paster Greg R. Taylor from Tulsa, Oklahoma
“Resign. Your actions and words speak loudly against an inclusive city. We want healing and reconciliation.”
Citizen of Tulsa, Oklahoma
“If Black Wall Street Times wants you to resign, I support them.”
Citizen of Wisconsin
“Anyone attempting to undermine the democracy of the USA, Politician or Citizen, should not be allowed to hold any office or be on any commission in this United States of America. Resign or be fired! Make an example of these traitors.”
Gwendolyn Thomas from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“Senator Lankford, although I appreciate you bringing to the attention of the Senate floor the necessity of Tulsa as well as the State to be involved in the Centennial of the 1921 Massacre and your incredible fundraising efforts towards the museum, it, however, has been made clear that you truly do not understand the history of African-Americans in the State of Oklahoma as well as in the country.
If you thoroughly did your research, as you stated on the Senate floor a few years ago, then you would fully understand how voter suppression has been one of the most controlling aspects of White Supremacy in the United States of America. In your research, you would’ve learned that the economic livelihood of African-Americans in the United States is systemically cut short due to voter suppression and systemic racism.
One of the main reasons that Greenwood was created by the Black community is to prevent our economic livelihood from being cut short due to the basis of our skin color, as it has been in every other city and in the main City of Tulsa. But as you know, ‘per your research,’ we weren’t even allowed to have the opportunity to build our own economic base due to white supremacy, which resulted in the 1921 Massacre.
As one of your constituents, I implore you to resign from the Commission for the Greenwood Museum as well as the Centennial. You have shown me and the rest of the Black community that you do not understand the Black fight that we have had in this country or understand that same fight we’ve had to create Greenwood.
Again Senator Lankford, please resign from the Centennial Massacre committee.”
Sherrita S. from Tulsa, Oklahoma
Jill Acree from Ada, Oklahoma
“James, friend, listen to the community which you claim to be most concerned about hurting and disenfranchising. They told you what you need to do: resign from the Massacre Commission. It’s sheer hubris emboldened by white supremacy that enables you to do further harm. This is a sacred event, and you are selfishly making it about you by staying where you clearly are not wanted. You’re acting like an entitled toddler, and it’s not only embarrassing to the State; it’s truly and deeply pathetic. What’s wrong with you? RESIGN!”
Lauren from Norman Oklahoma
“As a professional historian, I recognize how important it is to tell the truth about the past. A politician who publicly endorsed lies (about election fraud), who claimed ignorance of widely reported events (in this case, that the purpose of the Trump campaign lawsuits was to invalidate the ballots from predominantly Black locations), cannot be entrusted with a seat on a truth-telling commission.”
Citizen of Kansas
Danielle Moore from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“You screwed up big time. Do the right thing and walk away. You are clearly not an ally for the Black and Brown community. You put politics and lies over your constituents. Don’t make it worse than you have already made it.”
Stephen Allain from Jenks, Oklahoma
“Resign now. Your actions in contesting the election were shameful, especially to minority voters. Continuing to serve on the Commission is doing more harm than good.”
Citizen of Tulsa
“You have sacrificed your credibility on the altar of Trump. No one will believe you aren’t a white supremacist like him.”
Citizen of Tulsa
“You are not trusted as a commissioner; therefore, you should respectfully resign and make space for a trusted ally.”
Aaron from Stillwater, Oklahoma
“It is unacceptable for you to have participated in voter suppression efforts and in an attempt to overthrow the government. You knew you were actively seeking to disenfranchise Black voters, and therefore you are a stain on this State.”
Citizen of Tahlequah
“You, sir, are a disgrace. You attempted to disenfranchise millions of Black voters after the fact, whether intentionally or (as you laughably contend) unintentionally. Either way, you are not fit to serve on anything pertaining to the centennial of the Race Massacre and should resign at once.”
Brian Pelts from Pryor, Oklahoma
“Senator Lankford, you’ve been nothing but detrimental to every single American. You’ve supported the transparently obvious lies of a plainly stupid narcissistic president. You’ve amplified the echo chamber of QAnon drivel that has divided families. Even before all this, you’ve intentionally made buddy-buddy with racists. Resign from your office immediately.”
George Ford Kirk from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“Resign immediately. You have shown your complete and utter disrespect and disregard for the lives of Black Americans. You should not be allowed to sit on any commission that represents them.”
Wesley Crenshaw from Tulsa, Oklahoma
“Very simply, please step down. Your soul is not in this.”
Huggins from Tulsa, Oklahoma
Cheri Samu, Citizen of the World
“You should resign from the 1921 Commission and apologize for supporting White Supremacy.”
Prince, Citizen of the World
“Resign from your seat at our table you racist, white supremacist, clown of a Rep. abs to think I was subject to sit and listen to you at baptist church camps at Falls Creek. And for some reason I could tell you were a snake back then. What a clown you are you should be ashamed. Also, your comments after your trip to Ada Ok back when the primate cages were at the park have NOT been forgotten.”
Prince, Citizen of the World
“Please resign from the race commission. Your actions do not reflect well on the Commission’s mission or future.”
Emily Schldt from Muskogee, Oklahoma
“Your apology was merely an admission that you were at best too lazy to learn about the impact your vote would have in disenfranchising voters in predominantly Black districts. You failed to fully own what you did, and you have failed to follow that up with any type of action. You have repeatedly chosen to not stand up for people of color; for example, your recent statements praising ICE. You can earn political points elsewhere, but I sincerely hope you are removed from the Commission as you clearly do not have actions in line with their mission.”
Brady from Tulsa, Oklahoma
“Please, resign immediately.”
Jordan from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
“Please do the right thing and resign from the 1921 Tulsa Massacre Centennial Commission. For that matter, resign from the Senate as well; 11th-hour turnarounds can’t redeem sedition.”
Citizen of Tulsa
Elizabeth Jacobson from Tulsa, Oklahoma
“Your shortsighted political gamesmanship in attempting to disenfranchise, predominantly, minority voters of other states to ingratiate yourself to Trump’s base is disgraceful. You have no business being on anything relating to race relations, Senator. You’re the problem. Resign.”
Brian Brandes from Tulsa, Oklahoma