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
Sept. 16, 2016: Tulsa police officer fatally shoots Terence Crutcher
Sept. 18, 2016: Police release names of officers involved in shooting
Sept. 19, 2016: Police release video of shooting
Sept. 20, 2016: Police say PCP in vehicle used by Crutcher
Sept. 20, 2016: Attorneys for Crutcher family address shooting
Sept. 21, 2016: Terence Crutcher memorial service held
Sept. 22, 2016: First-degree manslaughter charge filed against Tulsa officer
Sept. 24, 2016: Nearly 1,000 attend Terence Crutcher memorial service
Sept. 27, 2016: Rev. Al Sharpton, other civic leaders lead justice march
Sept. 30, 2016: Tulsa officer Betty Shelby pleads not guilty
Sept. 30, 2016: Mother of Terence Crutcher's children removed as his estate administrator
Oct. 11, 2016: PCP found in Terence Crutcher's system; family attorney calls it 'immaterial'
Oct. 13, 2016: Oklahoma City Thunder honors Terence Crutcher, family
Oct. 25, 2016: GoFundMe ordered to be placed in Terence Crutcher's estate
Nov. 29, 2016: Tulsa detective testifies about vehicle window
Nov. 29, 2016: Betty Shelby's daughter decries media coverage
Dec. 5, 2016: No common-law marriage; GoFundMe money now in estate account
Feb. 1, 2017: Trial date set for Tulsa officer Betty Shelby; defense motions overrruled
March 23, 2017: Tulsa officer Betty Shelby denied request for another preliminary hearing
March 29, 2017: Defense moves to toss 'bad dude' comment
April 2, 2017: Tulsa officer Betty Shelby appears on '60 Minutes'
April 12, 2017: Special treatment at the courthouse?
April 24, 2017: National nonprofit raising money for Officer Betty Shelby's 'cost of living'
May 2, 2017: Tulsa police union files ethics complaint against DA
May 8, 2017: Jury selected for Tulsa officer Betty Shelby trial
May 10, 2017: Rev. Al Sharpton returns to Tulsa for 'Call for Justice' rally
May 15, 2017: Defense rests after unsuccessful motion for mistrial
May 16, 2017: Jury acquits Betty Shelby of first-degree manslaughter
May 18, 2017: Jury 'could never get comfortable with the concept of Betty Shelby being blameless'
May 20, 2017: Demonstrators at Mayfest host 'die in'
May 23, 2017; Tulsa officer Betty Shelby gets back pay; moves to administrative duty
July 14, 2017: Betty Shelby resigns from Tulsa Police
Aug. 10, 2017: Betty Shelby joins Rogers County Sheriff's Office
Aug. 21, 2017: Betty Shelby seeks to expunge Terence Crutcher manslaughter case records
September 2017: Terence Crutcher's parents talk about grandchildren, coping with son's death one year later
Oct. 25, 2017: Betty Shelby's request to expunge record granted
Dec. 28, 2017: Terence Crutcher Foundation forms encourage people to report negative police interactions
March 30, 2018: Tiffany Crutcher talks about implicit-bias training for Tulsa police
April 4, 2018: Crutcher family files second wrongful death lawsuit against city
May 2018: Betty Shelby talks about joining Rogers County
June 13, 2018: Terence Crutcher's father addresses City Council
August 2018: First Terence Crutcher memorial scholarships awarded
Aug. 27, 2018: Betty Shelby teaches course for officers on 'surviving the aftermath of a critical incident'
Nov. 11, 2018: Betty Shelby uninvited to law enforcement conference
Dec. 12, 2018: Community leaders challenge Tulsa Police hiring of Betty Shelby
March 1, 2019: Betty Shelby will not face charges for federal civil rights violation
March 14, 2019: Tiffany Crutcher addresses city council; mayor responds
March 21, 2019: Dismissal of a Terence Crutcher wrongful death lawsuit upheld
April 2019: Betty Shelby to teach basic NRA pistol course with husband
May 14, 2019: Tiffany Crutcher takes policing reform campaign to Capitol Hill
September 2019: Tulsa Police improve aspect of its use-of-force policy since Terence Crutcher's death
April 2020: Terrence Crutcher Foundation offers free meals to 'health care heroes'
June 1, 2020: After protests, Tulsa mayor, advocates for police reform agree to work together for substantial changes
Tulsa Race Massacre / The Tulsa World Library
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.