Oklahoma governor booted from Tulsa Race Massacre commission

The commission formed to observe the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre announced Friday that it has booted Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt from his seat on the panel.

A statement from the commission did not indicate the reason for the parting, and a spokeswoman said the commission had no further comment. However, the move came after commission project manager Phil Armstrong criticized the Republican governor for signing a bill into law outlawing the teaching of certain race and racism concepts in Oklahoma schools.

“The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commissioners met Tuesday and agreed through consensus to part ways with Governor Stitt,” the commission's statement said.

It went on to say that while the commission “is disheartened to part ways with Governor Stitt, we are thankful for the things accomplished together.” It also said, “No elected officials, nor representatives of elected officials, were involved in this decision.”

The Republican governor was informed of his ouster only when the commission issued its statement, said Stitt spokeswoman Carly Atchison.

In a letter to the governor Tuesday, Armstrong said the commission was “gravely disappointed” that neither Stitt nor a representative chose to attend a meeting Monday night to discuss the signing the GOP-backed legislation that prohibited the teaching of so-called critical race theory. That includes concepts that an individual, by his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Armstrong had said Stitt’s signing of the bill was “diametrically opposite to the mission of the Centennial Commission and reflects your desire to end your affiliation.”

Atchison said in her Friday statement that Stitt's role with the commission "has been purely ceremonial and he had not been invited to attend a meeting until this week.”

“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 of Tulsa, 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.”