Senator James Lankford (R., Okla.) apologized to the black residents of Tulsa, Okla. on Thursday for his initial decision to oppose the Electoral College results.
Community leaders demanded that Lankford resign or be removed from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission after he questioned election results in several key states with large African American populations, according to Tulsa World. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, where a white mob killed at least 300 black Tulsa residents.
Lankford wrote a letter addressed to “my friends in North Tulsa,” saying that his actions “caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state. I was completely blindsided, but I also found a blind spot.”
“What I did not realize was all of the national conversation about states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, was seen as casting doubt on the validity of votes coming out of predominantly Black communities like Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Detroit,” he wrote.
Last month Lankford signed onto a letter from Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) pledging to vote against the Electoral College results unless a commission was created to conduct a ten-day audit of President Trump’s unfounded claims that the election was plagued by widespread voter fraud.
However, Lankford elected not to challenge the results after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress met to count the votes on January 6.
“After decades of fighting for voting rights, many Black friends in Oklahoma saw this as a direct attack on their right to vote, for their vote to matter, and even a belief that their votes made an election in our country illegitimate,” he said. “I can assure you my intent to give a voice to Oklahomans who had questions was never also an intent to diminish the voice of any Black American.”
“I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you,” he said. “I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry.”