Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) on Friday was ousted from the commission created to observe the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre after he signed a bill banning the teaching of critical race theory in schools in the state.
“The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commissioners met Tuesday and agreed through consensus to part ways with Governor Stitt,” the commission said in a statement issued Friday, according to multiple reports.
The commission added that while it “is disheartened to part ways with Governor Stitt, we are thankful for the things accomplished together.” According to the statement, elected officials and representatives of elected officials were not included in the decision.
Earlier this week, commission project manager Phil Armstrong sharply criticized Stitt for signing the bill that prohibits the teaching of critical race theory, which holds that racism is embedded within U.S. history and laws.
He argued the move was “diametrically opposite to the mission of the Centennial Commission and reflects your desire to end your affiliation,” The Associated Press reported.
Stitt was only made aware of his removal from the commission when the announcement was made on Friday, his spokeswoman, Carly Atchison, told the AP. She also noted that the governor's role in the commission was "purely ceremonial and he had not been invited to attend a meeting until this week."
Armstrong said that Stitt did not attend a Monday meeting to discuss the critical race theory legislation, which he said left the commission “gravely disappointed," according to a letter addressed to the governor and dated Tuesday, local media reported.
Stitt signed the legislation banning critical race theory last Friday, saying "now more than ever we need policies that bring us together, not rip us apart."
State Rep. Monroe Nichols (D) resigned from the commission on Tuesday, saying Stitt’s signing of the bill “cast an ugly shadow on the phenomenal work done over the last five years.”
The commission organizes events to observe the anniversary of a massacre that happened in Tulsa on May 31 and June 1 of 1921 in which a white mob burned down 30 blocks of Black-owned businesses, homes and churches in Tulsa's Greenwood neighborhood, known as "Black Wall Street," killing nearly 300 people and injuring about 800.
The Hill has reached out to the commission for further comment.