Pledging Allegiance to People: An (Almost) Interview with George E Young Sr

Words take time to live into their full meaning. It may not always be the case. But, when it comes to the self-evident truth that all men are created equal it is hard to deny.

Impressions Outpace Technology

Everything set up well. Digital recorder – check. Microphone – check. Appointment time – check. Make phone call – check. Press record – check. Record conversation . . . no.

Twice I have had a great conversations with Oklahoma State Representative George E. Young Sr. Two times the recording failed. At first I thought it was operator error. After the second occurrence I realized, with the help of my IT friend, it was a technology failure.

Little consolation.

I first me George when we both served on a steering committee at the invitation of the Oklahoma Education Association. They hoped to sponsor a Clergy and Educators Conference. We were both pastors. I still am. George retired after 15 years with the Holy Temple Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. But before he retired, we helped plan and promote two or three of these events.

 

George made a lasting impression on me. When I began thinking of those I could talk to that would help me tell my people that while we have made progress in race relations, racism, in the United States, we still have work to do, George immediately came to mind.

From Memphis to Oklahoma

Born in Memphis in 1955, George moved to Oklahoma where he served as pastor in Boley. The small town of Boley was established in 1903, “as a predominantly Black pioneer town.” At one time there were at least 13 all-Black towns in Oklahoma. George told me that today there are two.

In our first conversation we talked about growing up in Memphis, the Civil Rights movement and life in Oklahoma today. After a conversation with Adam Clark I wondered how George would analyze the situation of race in Oklahoma.

I noticed George making comment about race as a public issue after the series of shootings this summer. It was one of the first time I recall George making public comment. George insists things are better. He is also quick to point out that we still have work to do. What is more, George believes that since we have made progress we will continue to do so.

A Near Miss May Still Be a Miss

You have heard the old saying, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” Recently the Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, appointed a Justice Reform Task Force. She did not appoint one Black person. Not one.

You would think that if 40% of those incarcerated in Oklahoma are Black and that Blacks comprise less than 10% of the total population, it would be important to have at least one Black person on the Task Force. After the commission became public, and maybe in part due to those like George who spoke out in disbelief, the Governor added to Black persons to the Justice Reform Task Force.

Some may think this simply an oversight. I am not suggesting it was intentional. But, it clearly illustrates how natural it seems to some to not even think about that sort of diversity.

If you live in Oklahoma, take time to study State Questions 780 and 781. We have opportunities here to begin the long road to real reform.

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.