The Edmond Sun


February 25, 2013

Character, opportunities mark fresh starts in Oklahoma’s, nation’s black history

EDMOND — February marks the celebration of Black History. This practice was established in 1926 as a week-long observance by African-American historian, scholar and educator Carter G. Woodson in honor of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. The second week in February was chosen because it commemorates the birthdays of both Douglas, an abolitionist who fought to end slavery in America; and Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery as 16th president of the United States. In 1976, then U.S. President Gerald Ford officially designated Black History Week as a month-long celebration.

When it was first established, Black History Month celebrated and acknowledged the trials and triumphs made by African Americans during their struggle for independence and recognition. It was a time to remember and honor those who fought and died to secure human rights for African Americans.

Today, 87 years later, America continues to use this set aside time to pay homage to those African Americans whose pioneering and resilient spirits helped shape our country.

In addition, this is also a time for America to gauge the progress that we as a nation are making in terms of equality and justice for all citizens, regardless of race. It is my belief that while the progress has been slow, it has indeed been steady. So much so that we as a nation can celebrate living African Americans who are continuing to make history. Just last month, our first African-American President of the United States was sworn into office for an historic second term. That swearing-in took place nearly 150 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and on the national day of observance of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Americans, along with citizens from across the world, applauded this historic occasion because it was a testament to how far we have come in addressing prejudices and embracing the unique characteristics of all people who live in this great nation.

Here in Oklahoma, the progress toward equality and justice is also steady. Our state represents a microcosm of the nation that is heading toward creating a more unified community in which, to paraphrase the words of the late Rev. King, “people will no longer judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” This progress is evidenced by recent events in our state Legislature.

Last month, T. W. Shannon was elected as the first African-American Speaker of the House, Tom Colbert was sworn in as the first African-American Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court; and David Lewis became the first African-American Presiding Judge of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. And while all of these men are African American, it was not the “color of their skin” that garnered these prestigious designations; rather, it was the content of their character, their dedication to their professions and to serving the citizens of this state, and their commitment to excellence.

If the past has taught us nothing more, it has taught us that anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic background has the ability to achieve greatness if they are willing to serve and if they are given equal opportunity to learn, grow and prosper. These achievements are certainly points of pride for all citizens of Oklahoma.

As Americans, we all should pause and reflect on the tremendous accomplishments African Americans have made to our community, state, nation and world. By doing so, we aren’t just celebrating Black history, we are celebrating American history.

KENT J. SMITH JR. is president of Langston University.

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  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014


If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
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