Oklahoma governor booted from commission after banning critical race theory

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has been kicked off a commission marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre after he banned critical race theory from schools.

The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commissioners called a special meeting last week and “agreed through consensus to part ways with Governor Stitt,” the commission said in a statement.

The commission’s director, Phil Armstrong, had on Tuesday written to the Republican governor ripping him for signing House Bill 1775 into law, prohibiting critical race theory from being taught in Oklahoma schools.

Armstrong claimed the GOP-backed bill “chills the ability of educators to teach … and will only serve to intimidate educators who seek to reveal and process our hidden history.”

Stitt was told his “signature on the bill at this critical time when Oklahoma should embrace its history is diametrically opposite to the mission of the Centennial Commission and reflects your desire to end your affiliation.”

He was told that a lack of response to the letter would be taken “as a further disavowal of the stated goals of the Centennial Commission and an official resignation from its membership.”

The commission was formed to mark the 100-year anniversary of the massacre by a white mob that burned 30 blocks of black-owned businesses, homes and churches in an area known as “Black Wall Street.” An estimated 300 people were killed and 800 others wounded.

Stitt’s role in the commission “has been purely ceremonial” and he’d not been invited to attend previous meetings, his spokeswoman, Carly Atchison, said in a statement.

“It is disappointing to see an organization of such importance spend so much effort to sow division based on falsehoods and political rhetoric two weeks before the centennial and a month before the commission is scheduled to sunset,” her statement said.

Another member of the commission, state Rep. Monroe Nichols, had 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.”

“Proud of the 1921 Race Massacre Commission! Removing the governor is no small deal,” Nichols tweeted after Stitt was booted.

Critical race theory has become controversial for suggesting that people are inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, by virtue of his or her race or sex.

Rep. Kevin West, one of the authors of House Bill 1775, previously insisted to 2 News Oklahoma that it doesn’t “stop the teaching of history or anything currently in our Oklahoma education standards, including curriculum that shows historical examples of racism or genocide.”

“This bill simply says that teachers can’t force a student to answer that they are inherently racist or sexist or that they must feel personally responsible for things perpetrated in the past by people of a similar race or gender,” he said.

Co-author Rep. Sean Roberts said that “the last thing our students need is to learn divisive rhetoric not based in fact.”

“We should be teaching the fundamental equality that is part of the American ideal, not teaching kids that by virtue of their race or sex they bear some sort of responsibility for past atrocities,” Roberts told the station.

With Post wires

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