Tulsa Senator Kevin Matthews has announced a press conference tomorrow morning, June 19th at 10:30 at Greenwood and Archer in Tulsa to honor the “Juneteenth” holiday and celebrate legislation he co-authored to teach students about the historic event in Oklahoma schools.
June 19th, 1865 is the day when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston Texas with the news that slaves had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Freed Texas slaves began an annual celebration of June 19th, on the first anniversary of the day, and the holiday eventually began to be known as “Juneteenth”.
“Although we recognize and observe Juneteenth here in Oklahoma, it has not been widely taught in schools, just as the 1921 Massacre and Black Wall Street of Tulsa had not been taught before this year” said Matthews. Matthews co-authored House Bill 3221 which will have the holiday taught in schools across the state. “This is a compatible piece of legislation that goes with Senate Bill 17 that was passed to support efforts of our 1921 Centennial Commission and the launching of the first statewide curriculum we announced with U.S. Senator James Lankford and our commission members in February of this year.”
Matthews is highlighting this year’s holiday by partnering with the Osage Nation and Osage Casino to create young business owners in north Tulsa through the Entrepreneur Shadow Program. He has supported the program for the past 10 years along with the 100 Black Men of Tulsa Mentoring program. Matthews has partnered with Chief Standing Bear, Assistant Chief Red Corn, and CEO of Osage Casino Byron Bighorse.
“We have enjoyed past support from the Chickasaw Nation, but it is particularly important that our business neighbors are willing to give back to our youth” said Matthews. “We are also working towards agreements of local participation in jobs and contracts as well as STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, opportunities for many youth in our community through this partnership. Juneteenth and freedom needs to be accompanied with opportunity, and that’s what we are creating together on Historic Greenwood.”
Matthews reiterated that both Juneteenth and freedom need to be supported by opportunity, noting the 100 Black Men Mentoring program headed by President Eddie Evans has also raised funds for the program, which partners youth ages 14-19 with business owners to learn how to own businesses.