Terence Crutcher Foundation fights for communities to thrive

by Sydney Anderson
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On September 16, 2016, Terence Crutcher, a Black man, was murdered by Betty Shelby, a white Tulsa police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the scene, Crutcher was unarmed and posed no threat to anyone. However, officer Shelby confessed to being “afraid’ of Crutcher, resulting in her shooting and killing him, an innocent Black man. After doing that, Shelby left his deceased body on the streets without any assistance.

On May 17, 2017, the shooting finally went to trial, but again, the corrupted criminal justice system worked in favor of Shelby, as she was found “not guilty.” The jury did, however, believe that Shelby was unfit to be a police officer.

Five days later, Shelby returned to work for the Tulsa Police Department, where she was put on desk duty and compensated for her missed work days. According to Terence Crutcher Foundation, “Her actions and that of the Tulsa police department thereafter unearthed almost a century of racial tension in Tulsa and left four children without their father.”

police shooting terence crutcher

Rev. Al Sharpton (left), Dr. Tiffany Crutcher (center) and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump (right) lead Tulsans in a march for justice for the police killing of Terence Crutcher Sr. in 2016. (Photo courtesy of: Terence Crutcher Foundation)

Terence Crutcher Foundation seeks to strengthen thriving communities

Six years after the tragedy, the Crutcher family never received justice for Crutcher, who was a beloved father, son, companion, and friend to all. However, since the murder, the Crutcher family has been seeking racial justice for others while strengthening the community by exposing harmful policies and trying to change them to ensure no other family has to experience what they endured.

Terence Crutcher Foundation works to strengthen thriving communities through leadership and economic development, formulating a paramount society of governing and proposal to flourish Tulsa. As they visualize a solvent future, their dream for Tulsa is “one where neighbors know and support one another, conflict and crisis are rare and taken care of within the community, and everyone has their needs met because resources are abundant and shared.” 

In addition, they envision Tulsa becoming a stabilized city in which “currently oppressed communities have autonomy over their lives and their futures, instead of state actors, external service providers, or outside entities.”

The Rev. Joey Crutcher prepares to lead the crowd in prayer at a candlelight vigil outside the 36 Street North Event Center on Thursday, September 16 exactly five years after the police murder of Terence Crutcher Sr. (The Black Wall Street Times photo. / Chris Creese)

A Mother’s Love

Mrs. Leanna Crutcher, the mother of Terrence Crutcher and co-founder of the Terence Crutcher Foundation, started the movement called “A Mother’s Love.” The incentive structures are around supporting and uplifting mothers—embedded in love and care from all mothers who have suffered enduring pain but remain united as one exemplifies excellent strength.

Scholarships

Terence Crutcher Foundation seeks to better the lives of Black individuals in the community by providing them with scholarships to get a proper education. They want to change the narrative that observes Black men as dangerous and intimidating, making them a “community of achievers” through self-growth, education, and sustainable resources.

They provide yearly scholarships to Black students to help cultivate their pathway to success. Terence Crutcher loved music and education; therefore, the foundation partners with Tulsa Community College to give scholarships to students interested in music and the arts.

Furthering Policy for a Brighter Future

At Terence Crutcher Foundation, they work to promote policy action by establishing autonomous communities on local, state, and national levels. They accomplish this from “grassroots organizing, the heartbeat of our work and the only path to a truly just future.”

The significance of the movement is to fight for reparations for the survivors, survivors’ families, and victims’ families of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the worst example of racial terrorism since slavery. Unfortunately, after ten decades, the fight for reparations continues in court. However, Terence Crutcher Foundation is determined to get justice for the three known remaining survivors of the Massacre (Viola Fletcher, Hughes “Uncle Red” Van Ellis, and Lessie Benningfield Randle). In addition, TCF continues to advocate for policies that fortify the Greenwood community.

In 2021, the Foundation commenced the “Community Walks,” where they go around the Tulsa neighborhood speaking to Tulsans about important community issues, specifically those correlated with the organization. The organized topics range from education, and changes in the criminal justice system, to prioritizing mental health. TCF believes the work is crucial to structuring community power, which is why community involvement is essential to evoke change.

Overall, Terence Crutcher Foundation is about establishing a brighter future through policy amendments, raising awareness on important issues, and working together as a community. From protesting to amplify their voices to empowering the community through uplifting programs, they constantly advocate for change and encourage others to do the same.

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