OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma State Superintendent of Schools Ryan Walters is now walking back comments he made during Thursday’s forum in Norman.
Walters was asked three times by someone in the crowd why the Tulsa Race Massacre doesn’t fall under his definition of Critical Race Theory (CRT).
In response, Walters said, “I’d say you be judgmental of the issue of the action, of the content of the character, of the individual, exactly, but let’s not tie it to the skin color and say that the skin color determined that.”
Walter’s full quote from Thursday was: “I would never tell a kid that because of your race and color of your skin or your gender or anything like that then you are less of a person, or you are generally racist. That doesn’t mean you don’t judge the actions of individuals and historically you should. This is right this is wrong they did this for this reason. But to say that it was because of their skin is where I say this is critical race theory. You’re saying that race defines a person. So, I’d say you be judgmental of the issue of the action of the content of the character of the individual exactly but let’s not tie it to the skin color and say that the skin color determined that.”
Reaction quickly picked up speed online with the Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools tweeting, “Despite repeated evidence to the contrary, I have to hold out hope that this could not possibly have happened. No matter what anyone says or does, Tulsa will continue teaching a full, honest, and complete history of our city, state, country, and world.”
Friday, Walters walked back his statements. “I am referring to individuals who carried out the crime. They didn’t act that way because they were white, they acted that way because they were racist,” said Walters.
Walters said that the many articles and posts that showed him on video making the statements from Thursday are, “complete lies put out only by a couple of journalists. That’s just a lie.”
The Tulsa Race Massacre happened in 1921 and historians at the Oklahoma Historical Society say they are still learning about how many were killed. But they say one thing is for certain, the determining factor was race.
Residents of the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa the were murdered by armed white vigilantes precisely because of the color of their skin.
“There had just been the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and lynching had grown more and more popular, not to mention Jim Crow Laws,” said Historian Larry O’Dell of the Oklahoma Historical Society. “Race was definitely one of the major factors in the case.”
“Absolutely,” said Superintendent Walters. “I mean, the facts of the day really are not much of any question. Those individuals acted that day during the Tulsa Race Riot. They had evil, racist intentions and murdered people then our students should be able to learn from that history.”