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Black Tulsa leaders don’t care about Sen. James Lankford’s intentions in previously supporting challenges to certifying the presidential election. Although Lankford has been credited with expanding support for the 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Committee, particularly with white conservatives, some Black Tulsans want him to resign.

Although Lankford has been credited with expanding support for the 1921Race Massacre Centennial Committee, particularly with white conservatives, some Black Tulsan leaders want him to remove himself from the committee and resign from his Senate seat.

The Tulsa Massacre represents an all-too familiar repeated offense in American history where Black communities were victimized and ravaged by angry white mobs. Last week’s attack at the Capitol spoke to the deep trauma held within for descendants of slavery whose ancestors were subjected to violence at the hands of their white oppressors.

Lankford apologized to Black Tulsans for his involvement in efforts to challenge the election, claiming he didn’t realize the baseless fraud allegations were viewed as an attack on Black voters. Public Radio Tulsa challenged Lankford for not taking full responsibility for his role in creating the atmosphere that led to the attack on the Capitol. 

“This is a great example of black people voting in record numbers, with a coalition of people who look different, who are being told, ‘No, their votes didn’t count,’” said state Rep. Monroe Nichols in an interview with Public Radio Tulsa. 

Thursday Lankford wrote a letter to residents of North Tulsa trying to salvage his place on the Centennial Committee. Lankford claimed he had a blind spot and did not realize his actions would be viewed negatively by Black voters. “I can assure you, my intent to give a voice to Oklahomans who had questions was never also an intent to diminish the voice of any Black American,” wrote Lankford. “In this instance, I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you.” 

Even in his apology letter, Lankford fails to address his prioritizing baseless accusations promoted by members of his party over the legitimate process. Lankford has walked a thin line between supporting unfounded allegations of fraud lobbied by national Republicans and cautioning people from jumping to conclusions about the delays from some states in counting votes. 

A November 6 news report from News 9 highlighted Lankford’s ignorance about the variation of state laws around processing absentee ballots. Despite his current assurances of not intending to undermine the votes of Black people across the country, Lankford repeated his assertions concerning voting challenges in the election for weeks without any actual evidence. 

Four days prior to the attack on the capitol, Lankford joined a group of Republican Senators in proposing an election commission to review unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. In a press statement Langford repeated inaccurate claims about absentee ballots including the curing process and signature verification. He also raised concerns about his ability to uphold the results on January 6. 

Langford’s position remained unchained through the morning of January 6, when he took the Senate floor to speak on the objection to Arizona’s electoral votes citing the concerns of millions of Americans. At no point in his objections did Lankford acknowledge that the concerns being raised were the result of fabricated claims by a losing party. He struck a different tone after the mayhem at the Capitol, walking back from his earlier support for contesting the results from Arizona. 

Anoa Changa is a movement journalist and retired attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow Anoa on Instagram and Twitter @thewaywithanoa.

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