OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – KFOR hosted a town hall featuring local leaders Tuesday evening regarding the recent racial unrest in the country and state of Oklahoma after the death of George Floyd.
Two members of United Voice, an organization with a mission statement of “Bringing local media outlets together to give Oklahoma a united voice in promoting a healthy dialogue on race,” were a part of the discussion – Pastor Clarence Hill Jr., founder of the stronger together movement, and Minster Cece Jones-Davis. Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and U.S. Senator James Lankford also participated in the town hall.
“This is a moment meant to say who are we as Oklahomans,” Hill said.
“There are many racial disparities,” Jones-Davis said.
However, both United Voice leaders said they’re hopeful for change.
“We see this great awakening of empathy where you have white America saying we actually feel it with you this time,” Hill said.
Jones-Davis was recently awarded for her criminal justice reform and advocacy work. She added that education is key in the midst of the unrest.
“People understanding why this is a topic, people need to be educated,” she said.
The conversation turned to a dark part of our history, the Tulsa Race Massacre, took place almost 99 years ago to this day.
“Why do we have such a hard time talking about our past?” Joleen Chaney asked.
“They’re generational issues that I think some people just want to ignore and pretend aren’t really there but are there,” Lankford said.
Holt urged people to speak out and take action.
“It took us decades to get into this situation; it’s going to take more than a week to get us out of it,” Holt said. “But it starts with people’s hearts, and that’s what’s happening this week.”
Sen. Lankford added that a difference could be made within the homes of Oklahomans.
“Has your family ever invited a family of a different race, a different ethnicity into your home for dinner?” Lankford said. “We’ll never get all the issues on the table until we get all of our feet under the same table.”
“You cannot let your kids grow up in a homogenous racial environment,” Holt said. “Because that’s not America.”
“Learn together, step out, do the things that make a difference,” Hill Jr. said.
If someone is unsure how to start the conversation, Lankford said he has an answer.
“We’re Oklahomans, we’re going to talk about weather and football,” he said.