Coalition working to establish human rights commission in Oklahoma City

United Voice

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A nonpartisan group of Oklahoma City residents are coming together out of concern about the impact of racism and discrimination on the quality of life in Oklahoma City. 

They are asking to re-establish the city’s human right’s commission which was disbanded in the 1990s.

Leaders of this movement say after the events that have occurred over the last two weeks in our country, they wanted to make sure Oklahoma City was as welcoming and inclusive as possible. 

“When everything started happening – I was like oh this is something the human rights commission could investigate or we could go to them to find some data and I learned that we didn’t have one,” said Dr. Andrea Benjamin, an associate professor in African American studies at OU. 

Benjamin is also helping lead a coalition to form Communities for Human Rights, OKC.

Benjamin says 67 of America’s top 100 cities have human rights commissions.

With Oklahoma City now at top 25 and with no commission, it’s hard to know where our community stands.

Step one will be collecting data on that.

“Are people experiencing discrimination and are they able to report it?” she said. “If they do report it, who do they report it to? What’s the body that determines that discrimination actually took place? We don’t even have one.”

They’re asking the human rights commission to be reestablished in fiscal year 2021. The mayor and city council will put together the committee.

“From various aspects of the city, various geographical representation. There might be young, race religion, that there will be that type of diversity on this commission,” said Benjamin.

The hope is to strengthen safe, secure, and thriving neighborhoods; achieve social justice; institute high standards within all city services; promote community wellness; improve fiscal management; and advance a strong economy. 

“The goal is to really make sure that our city is the most welcoming place it can be and right now because we don’t know where we stand,” Benjamin said. 

Councilwoman Nikki Nice, Maurianna Adams, and Quintin Hughes are also working on this effort. 

United Voice mission statement: A coalition of Oklahoma’s media outlets, brought together in a united voice to promote a healthy dialogue on race.

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