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GREENWOOD Dist. — As of Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023, Ryan Walters bans Black reporter from interviews.
The Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction continues to push a “curriculum” that downplays slavery and indoctrinates students with ultra-conservative ideologies, his segregated media policy has begun to take shape. Ryan Walters bans Black a reporter from interviews as of Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.
The conservative nonprofit, funded by a few large donors, seeks to spread right-wing talking points into public schools. It’s already faced fierce backlash in Florida, where DeSantis has adopted into the curriculum.
The lessons use cartoon characters to diminish the horrors of slavery and remove any criticism from the U.S.’s founding fathers. One Prager U character tells students not to judge enslavers because slavery was common and “no big deal” at the time.
“I am thrilled to announce this partnership with PragerU,” State Superintendent Ryan Walters in a press release. “This expansion of our available resources will help ensure high quality materials rich in American history and values will be available to our teachers and students. We will work together to find ways for PragerU to create content that will enrich the education of Oklahoma students.”
In Oklahoma, parents, teachers and students have already voiced opposition to Walters’ efforts to limit teachings on history and race.
“A waste of taxpayer money to romanticize slavery, peddle propaganda and undermine any true grasp of history,” state Rep and Tulsa mayoral candidate Monroe. Nichols (D-Tulsa) said in response to Walters’ announcement. “This is gross, yet unsurprising. Terrible day for education.”
When The Black Wall Street Times reached out to his office to ask for his response to these criticisms, this reporter was told our publication is not allowed to interview Supt. Ryan Walters.
Walters bans Black reporter and media company from interviews
Dan Isett is Director of Communications for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. When asked for an interview with Supt. Walters, Isett responded by pointing to a series of social media posts made by Black Wall Street Times editor-in-chief Nehemiah Frank on his personal X account.
“I just wanted to make sure that I saw correctly that your editor in chief had called for “major protests” at OSDE and, in another message on X, called Superintendent Walters “trash” attempting to “convince your children that white supremacy was a good thing,” Isett responded.
This reporter replied by explaining what one employee posts on their personal social media account has no bearing on the factual reporting performed by BWST journalists.
Not satisfied with that response, Isett followed up with, “Is it your position that what your editor in chief says publicly, especially something so inflammatory, has no bearing on his publication’s coverage of the issue?
This reporter responded again, explaining that a co-worker’s personal political beliefs don’t dictate a news story.
In response, Isett said interview requests from reporters for The Black Wall Street Times will no longer be accepted. Essentially, Ryan Walters bans Black reporter, and the publication, from giving readers the ability to hold their leaders accountable.
“Due to these and other inflammatory messages posted on X (Twitter) by your editor in chief, I am unable to accommodate your interview request, or any request from BWST, at this time,” Isett stated.
Notably, the state’s two largest traditional newspapers, The Tulsa World and The Oklahoman, have published letters and Op-eds either calling for Walters to resign or that he is unfit for office, though the letters do not necessarily reflect the views of their editorial boards. When asked if reporters from those outlets had also been banned from future interview requests, Isett would not say.
Ironically, despite denying our ability to remain objective, Isett’s own X profile says “my tweets only reflect my opinion.”
Ryan Walters bans Black reporter despite is own inflammatory rhetoric that has led to threats at schools
The Oklahoma State Department of Education is the second state entity to ban The Black Wall Street Times from interviews with its leaders. The snub from Walters’ office comes after a former spokesperson for Governor Kevin Stitt told a BWST reporter in 2021 their interview requests would not be accepted.
“Thanks for reaching out, but our policy is to respond to journalists, not activists pretending to be reporters,” former Stitt spokesperson Carly Atchison told The Black Wall Street Times weeks before the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
Meanwhile, in his indefinite denial of a Black media company, OSDE Director of Communications Isett claimed this publication’s editor-in-chief made “inflammatory” statements about Walters.
Yet Walters, who once claimed the Tulsa Race Massacre wasn’t about race, launched a campaign to get rid of DEI, ridiculed a Black man playing Santa Claus and called teachers unions “terrorist organizations,” has been accused of making inflammatory statements of his own.
Public Schools in Tulsa continue to face the trauma of daily bomb threats after a right-wing Tiktok account shared an edited video of a local librarian. It accuses her of indoctrinating students with liberal ideologies.
The video led to bomb threats against schools in Tulsa and across the state. Meanwhile, Walters shared the edited video on his government X account after the first bomb threat. He’s left the retweet on his page even after several more days of threats.
Walters’ office did not respond to a request from The Black Wall Street Times asking him if he plans to take down the video.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that The Tulsa World has not called for Walters’ impeachment in any editorial. Any views published in Letters to the Editor do not reflect the stance of the paper.