Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Let’s talk about race


Get on the Bus to Tulsa — Let’s Talk About Race," a weekend seminar, is planned in late March and sponsored by two Conference commissions: Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century and Religion & Race.

Dates are March 24-26 in Tulsa. Sessions will be at Tulsa-Centenary UMC and Postoak Lodge, a retreat venue. The program begins at 6 p.m. that Friday and concludes at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Participants will hear from Hannibal B. Johnson about the Tulsa race riot of 1921. He is author of "Black Wall Street, From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District." They will join in educational discussions about race issues, from "Classroom bias studies" to "Why strengthen black churches?"

Child care and elementary-age activities also will be offered.

Planners of the March event described what compels them to take action.

"I am the white mother of a black son, and our family needs your help so he can grow up safe," said Shelly Daigle.

"I realized in high school, in the ’70s, that I had the advantage to be anything, but a black friend at work would be limited by his race," said Steve Lewis. "I developed an opposition to any oppression. It offends me. And then I started seeing sometimes I’m the oppressor."

Judy Rowley recalled her childhood. "We weren’t allowed to talk in terms that were prejudiced. My mom said it was tacky. When I encountered prejudice, I didn’t understand it. I still don’t."

Carole Minter said she wants to learn more and make things better. "When I was young, I remember seeing a sit-in outside a cafeteria in OKC. My dad said, ‘Don’t look at them.’ But my mom went over and touched one of the women kindly on the shoulder."

Barbara Sears and her husband adopted three African-American and Native American children 40 years ago. "Even though I went to a lot of conferences about integration, I didn’t know to train them on how to respond to law enforcement to protect themselves. I’m worried about them and my grandchildren."

The director of the Tulsa Historical Society, Michelle Place, said, "In 1921, one of the wealthiest African-American commercial centers in the U.S. was destroyed. For too long neither blacks nor whites talked about this event, its root causes, and its lasting legacy. But the past causes the present and therefore shapes the future."

Registration information will be online. Go to www.okumc.org  and search for "Get on the Bus Retreat." There will be options for those who cannot attend all three days.


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