BROKEN ARROW — Acknowledging that “all eyes” will be on Tulsa for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre centennial, Oklahoma Baptists announced a unique way they will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.
Heath Thomas, president of Oklahoma Baptist University, said the Shawnee university will offer full “1921 Memorial Scholarships” to two Black students in 2021 and 2022 “as a way to remember but also to partner together.”
Preachers with Oklahoma Baptists’ African-American Fellowship will help choose which students receive the OBU scholarship packages.
Thomas made the announcement at Oklahoma Baptists’ recent meeting at First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow. The gathering brought together delegates from Oklahoma’s Southern Baptist churches in a one-day format, scaled back from the traditional two days due to COVID-19.
The memorial scholarships were discussed at the end of a presentation by the Rev. Hance Dilbeck, Oklahoma Baptists’ executive director-treasurer. A video conversation between Dilbeck and the Rev. Anthony Scott, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of North Tulsa and president of the Oklahoma Baptist State Convention, also was shown. The Oklahoma Baptist State Convention is the state affiliate of the National Baptist Convention USA, the nation’s oldest and largest Black religious organization.
“I want us to remember, but I’ve been really pushing for some tangible things to be given. And when I say tangible, when you send two or three kids to college, you actually change a family for generations and I think that is something that we don’t want to miss. I’m just excited to have a voice at helping it come to pass,” Scott said after the gathering.
Dilbeck told Baptist delegates that commemoration typically involves ceremony and official gatherings, but the heart of commemoration is remembering.
“Now, we know we live in a day where people all across the political spectrum will work to leverage this commemoration for their own purpose. However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the call to remember is a major theme of the word of God,” he said. “The people of God ought to always be a people with a long, accurate, honest memory.”