Lieut. Gen. Stacey Hawkins was the keynote speaker at the first Black History Day events held Monday at the State capitol.
Lieut. Gen. Hawkins is commander of the Sustainment Center at Tinker U.S. Air Force Base.
Throngs of students from throughout Oklahoma attended the events.
The events were sponsored by the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus.
Marylyn Luper Hildreth a rights activist and the daughter of the late civil rights leader Clara Shepard Luper) and former Taft Mayor Lelia Foley Davis were also speakers at the day’s activities.
On Monday—even as the Legislature began holding committee meetings–the day’s celebrants could be heard singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” (two national anthems).
The songs were led by the marching band of Millwood High School.
The nearly thousand students attending the day’s events came to the State Capitol from throughout Oklahoma.
Not only did their bands perform, but there were flag twirlers and dancers, and students gave orations of speeches once given by civil rights leaders. There was poetry readings, too.
“This is the first time a day has been dedicated to learning and celebrating the contributions of African-Americans to the economy, culture and growth of our great state,” commented State Rep. Jason Lowe (Dem., Oklahoma City), the chairman of the caucus.
Members of the caucus also include State Rep. Monroe Nichols (Dem., Tulsa), vice chairman; State Sen. George E. Young Sr. (Dem., Oklahoma City); State Sen. Kevin Matthews (Dem., Tulsa); State Rep. Regina Goodwin (Dem., Tulsa); State Rep. Ajay Pittman (Dem., Oklahoma City); and State Rep. Mauree Turner (Dem., Oklahoma City).
“With this celebration, we all came together as advocates of diversity,” State Rep. Lowe remarked. “Diversity is an issue that we all need to embrace.
“Today’s events were a step toward fully representing the diverse and rich culture of our state.”