WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. James Lankford (Rep., Okla.) apologized to his Black constituents after joining an effort to overturn the Electoral College certifying process.
That effort failed as had been widely anticipated, but, after the Jan. 6 riot invasion of the U.S. Capitol interrupted the process, Sen. Lankford withdrew his involvement in the effort.
The effort had been spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (Rep., Texas).
Today, there are calls for Sen. Cruz’s removal from the Senate.
Sen. Lankford was criticized by Black state legislators and other members of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Committee and threatened to remove the Oklahoma junior senator from that group’s board.
Sen. Lankford is up for reelection in two years
Sen. Lankford did not vote to overturn the election results but only changed his mind after the mob stormed the Capitol.
The Oklahoma Republican penned a letter to his “friends of North Tulsa,” saying that his actions caused “a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state. I was completely blindsided, but I also found a blind spot.”
During the 1921 race riot, white mobs massacred as many as 3,000 Blacks living in what was then known as “Black Wall Street.”
In his letter Sen. Lankford said he had not realized that attacking the integrity of election results from Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit, all majority minority, would be seen as an attack on Black voters.
“With U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley’s initial announcement he would challenge results in at least Pennsylvania, Sen. Lankford became one of the so-called “Dirty Dozen.”
The Oklahoma junior senator’s move prompted calls from prominent Black leaders in Tulsa to have the Republican removed from the 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Committee.
North Tulsa is where the location of the city’s historic Greenwood neighborhood.
Last summer, the massacre became part of the national political narrative when President Donald J. Trump decided to restart his political rallies, amid the coronavirus pandemic, by hosting one in Tulsa on Juneteenth.
Black Wall Street Times publisher Nehemiah Frank told the Tulsa World that he suggested that State Sen. Kevin Matthews (Dem., Tulsa) talk to Sen. Lankford to defuse the situation involving the president’s visit to Tulsa.
State Sen. Matthews was one of the officials who called out Sen. Lankford for his attempted election challenge.
In his apology,Sen. Lankford said he now understands the state senator’s criticism.