One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Center for Racial Justice, Tulsa, OK
Contact(s): Dorothy Moses DeWitty, Chair: (918) 425-8549
Purpose: To improve the quality of life for the people of Tulsa by influencing the religious, political and business community through education, partnership and dialogue

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Formed in 1993 by members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Center for Racial Justice (Center) is a faith-based approach to addressing racism and classism. Leaders of this racially mixed church formed the Center in order to deal with racial issues affecting people in their church and community. Realizing the complexity of issues involving race, Universalist Church leader, Ms. Dorothy Moses DeWitty, organized a diverse Board of Directors from inside and outside the Church. As a culturally diverse body, the board draws from its collective resources.

Program Operations

The main purpose of the Center is to help solve individual and collective problems within the Tulsa community. The Board of Directors meets monthly to address community concerns that relate to race and, occasionally, to mediate problems between individuals and groups. The 15 board members include members of the Church of Restoration, a Protestant bishop, an Episcopal vicar, an executive director of a local chamber of commerce, a president of a community development corporation, a member of the Quaker Society of Friends, a city council member and a medical doctor. The Center organizes events aimed at improving race relations. It has held youth meetings, entitled "Spirit of Neighbor," that incorporate dialogue, music and videos. The meetings draw on local history to teach social harmony and understanding. The Center also organized a large-scale community recognition of the 77th anniversary of the 1921 race riots that occurred in Tulsa. A racially mixed group of more than 700 persons participated in this memorial of one of Tulsa's most pivotal legacies through storytelling, dance, music and panel discussions. The event included a specially made video by the Race Initiative Chair, Dr. John Hope Franklin. In addition to addressing race issues within the Church of the Restoration, the Center has utilized interfaith and intrafaith dialogue, youth education and partnerships with organizations such as the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, the North Tulsa Community Development Corporation, the local Democratic Party, the Tulsa Police Department, the Tulsa Mayor's Office and the Teamsters.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

The most measurable results claimed by the Center for Racial Justice lie in the education it has provided to the Tulsa community. Recognizing that race ills are tied to misconceptions of history, particularly Tulsa history, the Center has educated over 1,000 people about local history in a way that is just to people with different racial and economic perspectives. Its aspirations, however, are much more substantial. The Center is now using its connections to education, business and political leaders to stimulate a business growth in Tulsa's most under served areas. This, its members contend, is the most comprehensive approach to eliminate race ills in Tulsa.

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