Organizations call on Stitt to resign after signing HB 1775

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 05/12/2021, 7:48 PM

(TULSA, Okla.) Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is facing backlash after signing HB 1775 last week. 

The bill, authored by Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, prohibits Oklahoma public schools, colleges and universities from teaching “Critical Race Theory” and from requiring mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling.

By definition, Critical Race Theory is "based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color." 

Click here for more information. 

The Greenwood Arts & Cultural Society, INC. expressed its desire for Stitt to be removed as a member from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission the same day he signed HB 1775 into law. 

Here is their full request: 

The Greenwood Arts & Cultural Society, INC. formally calls upon the leadership & members of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission to ask Governor Kevin Stitt to resign as a member of it's body. 

This request comes in the midst of thousands of people coming to Tulsa, OK to commemorate the horrific massacre (led by a white terrorist mob), which killed 300+ citizens of the Greenwood District of Tulsa, stole an unknown amount of possessions, and destroyed millions of dollars worth of property. 

With the passage of Oklahoma HB 1775, the Governor has sent a clear message that he does not believe in the stated mission of the Commissions to;

" to educate Oklahomans and Americans about the Race Massacre and its IMPACT on the state and Nation,"

and that Governor Stitt poses both a clear and present threat to the truth being taught about one of the worst events in American history.

This commission's mission cannot be met with a perverted version of the true history behind this senseless tragedy being taught to future generations. What Governor Stitt has signed into law would allow the" white washing" of the history of this subject, as well as many other subjects pertaining to the plight of minorities in the State of Oklahoma, and the United States of America.

THEREFORE, we call for swift action to remove Governor Stitt from this body, and for this organization to act in the TRUE interest of the survivors, descendants, and the history that this commission has been called to represent.

Respectful Submitted,

C.J. Webber-Neal 


Greenwood Arts & Cultural Society, INC.

Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission

Phil Armstong, Project Director of the 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Commission, shared the commission’s disappointment with Stitt’s recent decisions and asked him to explain those decisions or resign in their own official response on Tuesday: 

Dear Governor Stitt:

We are gravely disappointed that neither you nor your representative chose to join the special meeting of the 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Commission (“Centennial Commission”) last night to discuss the signing of HB 1775 into law. Indeed, your office failed to even extend the courtesy of a reply to the Centennial Commission’s invitation.

As a Centennial Commission member, surely you know that the vigorous exchange of ideas through education lies at the heart of our mission. Telling the story of 1921 requires confronting and sharing the facts about this horrific period in Oklahoma’s and Tulsa’s history. It also demands an exploration of the underlying causative factors.

HB 1775 chills the ability of educators to teach students, of any age, and will only serve to intimidate educators who seek to reveal and process our hidden history. You know that. We delivered this message to you before you signed the measure. We were joined by educators, school boards, universities, faith, and community leaders, all of whom vigorously objected to HB 1775. You seemingly disregarded and dismissed this chorus of voices aligned against HB 1775.

In your public address last week you stated, “We need policies that bring us together, not rip us apart,” and described HB 1775 as a bill that “encourages honest and tough conversations” by codifying the concepts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

How does this law bring us together and codify the concepts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? How do you reconcile your membership on the Centennial Commission with your support of a law that is fundamentally contrary to the mission of reconciliation and restoration?

The Centennial Commission has shared nationally and internationally the unvarnished and difficult truth about 1921. Our community and state will be stronger for telling the story through the lens of those whose lives were lost or forever changed because of racism, hatred, and violence. It has been our collective mission to offer a path for repairing that which was destroyed.

The Centennial Commission feels that your 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. If you would like to contact us to discuss this further, please do so immediately. If we do not hear back from you, we will consider your lack of response as a further disavowal of the stated goals of the Centennial Commission and an official resignation from its membership.



Phil Armstong

Project Director See Less

State Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) resigned from the commission on Tuesday, saying in part, “With the signing of HB1775, our fellow commissioner Governor Kevin Stitt has cast an ugly shadow on the phenomenal work done during the last five years. Governor Stitt has chosen to align himself with folks who want to re-write or prohibit the full intellectual exploration of our history, which is in direct conflict with the spirit of the commission I joined several years ago.” 

Stitt provided the following statement in response:  

Governor Stitt and the First Lady both strongly support reconciliation, healing and the rebirth of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, and have worked with the 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Commission on multiple productive 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.

Governor Stitt issued Executive Order 2021-12 as a signing statement to expressly direct that the Tulsa Race Massacre, and all historical events included in the Oklahoma Academic Standards, must still be taught in our schools. The governor believes that any other interpretation of this legislation is misguided and fundamentally inaccurate, and that position was expressed to the Centennial Commission before the bill was signed into law.


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