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Several Tulsa houses of worship display 'Black Lives Matter' on anniversary of Terence Crutcher's death
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Several Tulsa houses of worship display 'Black Lives Matter' on anniversary of Terence Crutcher's death

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Religious leaders from Tulsa’s churches and temples gathered at a midtown church Wednesday to issue a proclamation: Black lives matter.

More than a half-dozen leaders at the houses of worship gathered at noon outside All Souls Unitarian Church, located at 29th Street and Peoria Avenue, in front of a mural that spelled out that proclamation in large yellow block letters.

The statement and murals come on the heels of Tulsa city officials deciding to remove the Black Lives Matter mural on Greenwood Avenue in the coming months as part of a scheduled street repaving project.

Local activists painted Tulsa’s BLM sign on the street without the city’s permission on the eve of Juneteenth, the day before President Donald Trump’s campaign rally at the BOK Center.

“We admit in this moment that this symbolic public art mural is not the systemic change that is so desperately needed, but we also see a need, the need, right now to hold up this phrase, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and to reclaim it for our lives, for all our lives, here in Tulsa,” said Rabbi Dan Kaiman of Congregation B’Nai Emunah. “We do not view this phrase, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ as political speech but as a declaration of something that should be obvious but is not.

“When we say Black lives matter, we are not saying that other lives don’t or asserting some agenda other than to make the most basic claims about something that has not been historically true in our city or nation.”

Eight leaders of worship houses around Tulsa stood up to speak Wednesday: Fellowship Congregational Church; All Souls Unitarian Church; Trinity Episcopal Church; St. Paul’s United Methodist Church; Centenary United Methodist Church; College Hill Presbyterian; the Synagogue, and the Morning Star Baptist Church were represented, where one of the murals were unveiled.

The Rev. Chris Moore of Fellowship Congregational said four murals have already been painted since Monday. Murals have been painted at Fellowship Congregational Church, All Souls, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and College Hill Presbyterian.

Additional murals will be painted at other houses of worship over time, he said.

Local clergy announced the plan on the fourth anniversary of Terence Crutcher’s death. Moore said Crutcher’s death connects Tulsa to the “larger, awful story of violence against Black and brown bodies all across our nation.”

Moore challenged “people who have been historically known as white” to reflect on the historical and systemic ways that Black lives did not matter and to work to change that. He described that as an act of faith directed by a God “having created each of us in God’s own image and commands us to love one another as God loves us.”

“It is that faith that calls us to seek higher ground than we have sought thus far, to stop limiting ourselves to the weak constraints of right versus left and begin to talk instead about right and wrong,” he said.

“If we do not, in a world that is placing increasing demands on our interconnectedness, we will remain trapped by our past unable to move forward together to truth and reconciliation, to accountability and understanding, to a place where we could say with authenticity that ‘all lives matter.’”


Featured video: Al Sharpton in Tulsa in 2017: 'I come to pray, I come to rally and I come to mend broken hearts'


Gallery: Shooting of Terrence Crutcher: The Tulsa World archive

​Harrison Grimwood

918-581-8369

harrison.grimwood@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @grimwood_hmg

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