TULSA, Okla. - Female attorneys sent a warning to state legislators that they’re coming to the Capitol Monday to help mediate a solution for better education in Oklahoma, or there will be consequences.
Becki Murphy said she and her colleagues spent the past week watching the teacher’s walkout with growing frustration.
“I’m frustrated at the resistance,” Murphy said. “I’m frustrated that we can be 49th in the nation and that nobody seems to think this is a problem, and that anybody’s blaming this on the teachers.”
So on Thursday, she wrote the following open message on Facebook directed to legislators:
“Dear Oklahoma Legislators,
I, along with 100 female attorneys, will be coming to see you Monday. I am asking to meet with you and discuss a resolution to this educational funding nightmare. I feel like we can help you, collectively, come up with a resolution. But let’s be clear. There WILL be change. And it WILL be for the better for our children. As Nelson Mandela once said “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul that (sic) the way in which it treats its children.” Call my office to schedule a meeting with one of us. My number is 918-895-8200. I’ll await your call. Let me be clear about one thing, we need change. And you will do it, or you have my word…. one of the 100 women by my side will file for your seat…. and we will do it for you. I prefer to work with you. It’s your choice if you will work with me.
Becki A. Murphy
P.S. I’ll see you Monday. We will be the women in black. You will see us coming.”
The post came after she made a call to her peers on a private Facebook page devoted to female attorneys across the state. It immediately went viral, and already Murphy said more than 160 female attorneys from across the state have committed to show up Monday with dozens more hoping to make it.
“The reaction was amazing,” Murphy said, “I cannot believe how many women agreed to do it.”
The plan is for all to meet at the Oklahoma Bar Association and walk over to the Capitol together.
“We are going to be asking the teachers to actually turn their back on the Capitol at 10 a.m. so that they can face and see the women coming to advocate for them,” Murphy said. “I think it also is symbolic that they’re turning their back on the Capitol that’s turned their back on them for ten years.”
The growing number of attorneys have been working together to schedule meetings for small groups of lawyers to meet with individual legislators. Murphy said they’ll also be hoping for cooperation with the OEA, asking the teachers inside to exit so the attorneys can make their appointments timely.
The only agenda they plan on pushing is a path to improving education.
“We’re going to go in and listen to the legislators and say, what is happening is not working. What is stopping you from moving forward? Why are you unable to fund it?” Murphy said.
As for they teachers’ perspective, she said they’ve already gotten an enormous amount of input from educators since the Facebook post went online.
Murphy said a lot of the feedback she’s gotten is that teachers feel condescended to when they speak with legislators.
“The main message to [the teachers] was, ‘you’re here alone, no one’s supporting you,’” Murphy said. “So I think what’s been important for the teachers is, and especially coming from the girl attorneys, is you’re not alone and we are here for you.”
Murphy is confident that they can cause change at the Capitol.
“I’m hoping we can come up with solutions that we can follow up with,” Murphy said. “We will be coming with women who have the capability to follow up with those things, who have the ability to draft legislation.”
When asked why this is an all-female effort, Murphy said that started as a result of the original call in the Oklahoma female attorneys’ Facebook group. However, as it progressed, she said it became an important element.
“If I said a hundred women are going to descend on the courthouse…I felt like that would get their attention,” Murphy said.
But she said their male counterparts have been immensely supportive, including offering to cover for the women who will miss that day of work.
“These aren’t baby lawyers who have no experience,” Murphy said. “A lot of these are incredible women who travel all over the U.S. and litigate cases, and go to the Supreme Court of the United States, not just Oklahoma.”
As for the touted uniform?
“You can expect everyone to be in black.”