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Race massacre commission leader rips gov for signing bill

May 11, 2021 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A leader of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Commission sent Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt a scathing letter on Tuesday over Stitt’s signing of a bill that prohibits the teaching of certain concepts of race and racism in Oklahoma schools.

Phil Armstrong, the commission’s project manager, said the commission was “gravely disappointed” that neither Stitt nor a representative chose to attend a meeting Monday night to discuss the signing of House Bill 1775. Stitt is also a member of the commission.

“Indeed, your office failed to even extend the courtesy of a reply to the Centennial Commission’s invitation,” Armstrong wrote.

The GOP-backed bill prohibits teaching of so-called “critical race theory,” including concepts like an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Stitt’s office said in a statement that the governor strongly supports the reconciliation, healing and rebirth of Tulsa’s Greenwood District and that both he and his wife have worked with the commission on multiple events.

“While it has become clear that Mr. Armstrong does not speak for the entire Centennial Commission, it is disappointing that some commission members feel that a common-sense law preventing students from being taught that one race or sex is superior to another is contrary to the mission of reconciliation and restoration,” Stitt’s statement read.

But Armstrong said Stitt’s signing of the bill is “diametrically opposite to the mission of the Centennial Commission and reflects your desire to end your affiliation.” Armstrong said if the commission does not hear from Stitt, the panel will consider his lack of response an official resignation from its membership.

Another member of the commission, state Rep. Monroe Nichols of Tulsa, resigned from the panel Tuesday over Stitt’s signing of the bill, saying it “cast an ugly shadow on the phenomenal work done over the last five years.”