By Eagle Newswire
Mayor G.T. Bynum and District 1 City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper announced Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, that an ordinance will be sent to the Tulsa City Council to create the Greater Tulsa Area African-American Affairs Commission.
“I have been working with the north Tulsa community for over a year to create a commission that reflects the needs of the community and encourages a better understanding of the African- American people and our city,” Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper said. “I would like to thank Mayor Bynum and his staff for working with us to create a commission that truly fulfills the community’s wishes.”
The Commission will serve in an advisory and advocacy capacity to City and County officials to encourage and promote unity, purpose and understanding among the African-American population of the greater Tulsa area.
“As we work to address racial disparities in Tulsa, I think it is necessary for this Commission to have a seat at the table in enhancing opportunities for our African-American community and spurring positive change in our city,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said.
Hall-Harper added, “It is particularly significant that we announce this effort to create Tulsa’s first African-American Affairs Commission in February, Black History Month: a month where we pause to remember our nation’s tortured history with the African-American community and the leaders past and present who helped move our country forward.”
The Greater Tulsa Area African-American Affairs Commission will consist of 23 members, with 12 members serving as representatives of critical community organizations. Seven appointments plus the community organization representatives will be recommended by Mayor Bynum and confirmed by the Tulsa City Council. The Board of Tulsa County Commissioners will recommend four appointments that will be confirmed by the Mayor and City Council.
Mayor Bynum noted that he will work with Councilor Hall-Harper and the Tulsa City Council to identify strong appointees to the commission.
The Greater Tulsa Area African-American Affairs Commission will join the ranks of four other human rights-related commissions: Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission, Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission, Human Rights Commission and the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Back in August of 2016, the then incumbent City Councilor, Jack Henderson, who was defeated by Hall-Harper showed his lack of support for the creation of the Commission in an interview with KTUL Channel 8. He said, “I think 40, 50 years ago, it probably would have been great but right now I don’t know if we need one. Something like a little old token committee is an embarrassment to a lot of people that come talk to me.” He said the Commission wouldn’t have any real power.
The Eagle reached out to citizen Chris Brown in Tulsa north to get his reaction to the Commission and he had this to say, “I think it is a great decision, one long overdue in this city. It was unfortunate that once again like most things dealing with the black community we had to fight for this and force the issue with the previous Mayor. I think Mayor Bynum realized this was an issue that our community was willing to fight to the end. One issue I would like to see addressed is the large gap in economic development in the black community.”