Once again, many of us have been infatuated by a trial coming from sunny Florida. This time last year, it was Casey Anthony on trial for the murder of her daughter. This year, it was George Zimmmerman. Even with all of its hype, it's puzzling as to why this trial received such national attention when cases like this involving mixed-race murders are an everyday occurrence across America. In Chicago alone, on July 3, there were over 70 shootings and many deaths on that single day. So why is the Zimmerman trial worthy of hours of national broadcasting when, in fact, similar situations occur daily somewhere in our country?
It's unfortunate that some communities, like Sanford, Fla., seem to look for issues and causes to inflame race relations. It's as if those who thrive on this divisiveness can't stand the peace that naturally occurs over time when people learn to live together in a community. They look for something to happen that will give them the platform and megaphone to stir things up. Generally, a community knows it's in trouble the moment either Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson's airplane arrives, and they suddenly appear in places they've never set foot before.
Tulsa has been a shining example of not letting this happen. Last year, following the Good Friday shootings, Jesse Jackson flew in within 72 hours, apparently feeling he would lead the confrontation against the Tulsa Police Department and the mayor. He arrived fully prepared to lay out his demands concerning what was to be done. Fortunately for Tulsa and, perhaps, unfortunately for Jesse, he found the police chief and the mayor were already way ahead of him on reaching out to citizens, keeping the peace and promoting healing.
Lately, old race issues have been ramping up in the efforts to rename the Brady District. Clearly, this is being lead by people who have too much idle time on their hands and who believe their life will be more meaningful if they can manufacture some type of cause that will inspire a crowd. Unfortunately, the first to take the bait is often the city council. Rather than being able to "just say no" to a bad idea, the council believes it has to spend time, energy and money chasing bad ideas that neither have nor will get any traction from reasonable people. A recent Oklahoma Sooner Poll confirmed the strong majority of those polled felt the renaming of the Brady District was a bad idea.
Fortunately, the council's ability to do much to keep this bad idea moving forward is limited to only being able to change street names. It's fortuitous that the voices of the businessmen and women in the Brady District, many who are young entrepreneurs, are already labeling this effort for what it is -- a huge waste of time. These leaders of today and tomorrow are right on target when they say that you don't make things better today by trying to erase the past. You do it by embracing the past. Particularly a past that is almost 100 years old.
What did Tate Brady do 100 years ago that has this small group so upset? Well, he is said to have been a Democrat. That might be enough for some but, in reality, most of the people behind this effort are Democrats.
Some have speculated that he had some hand in either starting or propelling the 1921 race riot. Since Tate has been in the ground for almost 100 years, he's not around to defend himself. All the better for the conspiracy theorists who are hoping that if he was a race terrorist, that should be good enough reason to erase his name from Tulsa history. As one business owner from the Brady Arts District said: "What a load of bollocks."
The city council just needs to end this waste of time and find something more constructive for the city to work on. Not every idea that comes to city hall has to have a task force, committee, or study group. It should be easy, once a bad idea is presented, for reasonable thinking people to say, "We're not going there."
How do you suppose we're perceived by the rest of the country when we spend our time on such ludicrous ideas? We talk about wanting to attract and retain new businesses and new business men and women. We talk about wanting our city to be hip, together, cool, modern and somewhat worldly. And then we keep breathing life and hope into what is clearly a non-issue, non-starter, non-important idea.
It is refreshing and uplifting that it appears the Brady Arts District and others involved in the Brady Business Association are smart businesspeople, as well as just plain smart people, to tell the city council, "No thanks. For us, this idea is dead, and it should be for you as well."
I'd bet that, because Tate was obviously a businessman, his response to this situation would be that everyone's time could be better spent coming up with ways to make Tulsa a stronger, more competitive city that will bring new business and new jobs. A city where your children can find good jobs, affordable housing, good schools and a safe environment to raise their children.
And hey, Tate? Did you think you'd still be making news almost 100 years after your death? He's probably laughing about this.
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