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Bynum Says He's Tuning Out International Media Coverage Of Centennial, Focusing On Local 'Mourning'

Chris Polansky
File photo of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum as a press conference regarding the city's search for remains of Tulsa Race Massacre victims at the Tulsa Fire Museum on July 17, 2020.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum says he is not spending much time thinking about the international media coverage of the upcoming Tulsa Race Massacre centennial events, instead focusing on what the anniversary means for Tulsans.

"I think about this event like when you're mourning as a family when you have the death of a loved one," Bynum said in a video message released Tuesday by City Hall. "You're really just concerned about your family and your friends and your neighbors. What people on the periphery have to say about it is of less importance."

"I know that there will be lots of people talking about it, but this is a time for Tulsa to remember our neighbors and think about how we can be better moving forward," the mayor said.

Bynum said he wants Tulsans to interpret the anniversary as "a challenge to ourselves."

"This centennial is an opportunity for us to pause and reflect on the lives lost and the vibrancy that Black Tulsans have brought to our community," Bynum said, as well as to "think about how we can be a better city moving forward, to openly acknowledge the challenges that we face right now and think about how we can move from those and address those and unite behind making this a city where every kid has an equal shot at a great life."

Bynum touted the city's Equality Indicators reports and investments in developments in north Tulsa as tangible efforts to improve the lives of Black Tulsans. 

The mayor has distanced himself from embracing any proposal for direct reparations to survivors and descendants of the massacre. He has been a vocal proponent of and his administration has been the driving force behind the current archaeological search for remains of victims of the massacre, including the exhumation scheduled to begin Tuesday of a mass grave in Oaklawn Cemetery thought to contain victims' bodies.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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