African American Commission, If Approved, Hopes To Breakdown Racial Divide
TULSA, Oklahoma - The fight to create an African American commission in Tulsa is expected to end soon.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum will present an ordinance creating the commission to the city council.
For years, people in the African-American community have been fighting to get the commission established. Bynum said now's the time to make it a reality to help break down the city's racial divide.
City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper said, "Tulsa has often been called a tale of two cities, and I think this is a step in the right direction to bring this to a tale of one city."
Hall-Harper and Mayor Bynum stood in solidarity with members of the African American community to announce the creation of an ordinance that could make an African American commission a reality.
"We've created the mechanisms by which where African Americans throughout the city can have their voices heard and play a part in our policy development process," Bynum said.
With the city's grim history surrounding the Tulsa Race Riot, for years protesters have been demanding a commission.
In recent months there's been push back and financial concerns, but Bynum said the benefits outweigh that.
Hall-Harper said, "So exciting and so satisfying to know, with the new administration, it was an immediate attempt to move this forward."
If the city council approves the ordinance, the mayor will appoint 23 members. Half of those appointees will have to currently serve a role in an organization with a primary mission to advance the African American community.
Kristi Williams with the African Ancestral Society said, "We always wanted to serve as a nucleus to the community where all groups and organizations can come together."
Williams said the goal of the African Ancestral Society is to preserve African traditions and culture in the community.
She said this decision holds even more significance during Black History Month.
"This is sacred ground, this is where our ancestors died, bloodshed, cried. It's amazing," Williams said.
There is a long list of other commissions operating in the City of Tulsa.
As for the African American Commission, city councilors will look at the ordinance this week. They are expected to vote on it in two weeks.