Local clergy holds panel discussion on meaningful and lasting changes for racial equality

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
News alert.

Clergy from several local churches gathered together Thursday evening for a panel discussion about race relations in Southern Oklahoma. Throughout the course of the event, the panelists answered questions posed by moderator Cedric Bailey then reacted to questions and statements from audience members.

Moderator Cedric Bailey summed up the purpose of the evening during his introduction.

“We’re here tonight for a dialogue to begin the process of meaningful and constructive communication about race to advance relationships across races and to gain a better understanding of the Black, African American culture,” Bailey said.

Over the course of the discussion, one key element mentioned numerous times was the need for a ministerial alliance to come together at regular intervals to make a difference in the community. This alliance would have funds from each of the churches that could then be distributed to those who are down on their luck for a variety of reasons.

By the end of the meeting, the panelists agreed to start just such an alliance and are planning for its first meeting. 

Another issue brought forward came from a statement from an audience member comparing the racism in Southern Oklahoma to the racism in other areas. The audience member believes the racism here is less overt than in other areas such as the Deep South, but just as insidious. He stated the racists in those areas are more likely to completely ignore Black people and refuse to speak to them, while here racism can come with a public smile that fades the moment they are no longer in the presence of African Americans.

Panelists agreed that the form of racism was completely unacceptable and needed to be called out whenever it's experienced whether that is among friends and acquaintances, online, or even in the pews on Sunday morning.