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Editor’s Notebook: Status of Women commission swearing-in, a book gathering

Patrick B. McGuigan, The City Sentinel —

OKLAHOMA CITY – On Thursday, June 24, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt will officially swear-in The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women’s elected 2021-2022 officers on Thursday at the Commission’s regular monthly meeting that is open to the public. The new officers begin their official duties on July 1, the beginning of the state’s Fiscal Year.

The meeting is set for the Oklahoma Judicial Center, 2100 N. Lincoln Blvd., Grand Room, in Oklahoma City. The meeting is at 1:30 p.m.

Participating in the swearing-in will be Governor Kevin Stitt, Victoria Woods, Incoming Chair 2021-2022, Molly Wehrenberg, Vice Chair; Karen Sneary, Secretary; Shondra McCage, Finance Officer; Dr. Nyla Khan, Advisory Council Chair and Delores Runnels, Immediate Past Chair.

About the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women: The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women is a state commission that serves as the voice for women in Oklahoma. It strengthens and empowers women in Oklahoma by informing and educating the legislature and executive branches about issues to improve opportunities and quality of life for women.

Commissioners are appointed by the Governor, Senate President Pro Tem and Speaker of the House. The commission oversees the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame and presents the Guardian and Kate Barnard Awards. To learn more about OCSW, visit ok.gov/ocsw.  

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Speaking of Dr. Khan, I cherish our exchanges, dating back to our first encounter at a June 2019 event hosted by the Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma City.

I have often mentioned her new book.

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One of my U.S. history professors at Oklahoma State University, back in the day, was a white guy named Jim Smallwood. We were not close, but he taught me some history. I enjoyed his teaching and writing.

I once asked Dr. Smallwood why he had focused on Black History. He said it always interested him – and there was a need for teachers familiar with the Black American experience, so he gravitated toward that work. Sort of an entrepreneurial motivation.

With personal interest in and knowledge of Cherokee and African-American history,

Dr. Smallwood focused much of his scholarly work on the Reconstruction era in Texas. …

I came across this biographical note while searching for him online recently: Texas State Historical Association, “Smallwood, James Milton (1944-2013)”

I was fortunate to have a white guy from Texas who, back in the day, taught me a lot of the truth about history, including Black History.

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Columnist Neil Patel recently sketched one of the great moral challenges for American citizens in the modern age: “As a society, we are growing increasingly self-interested. Citizenship brings responsibility beyond self-interest. … The social and cultural segregation in our country is directly contributing to the coarseness of our national culture and politics. We no longer just disagree in America; we vilify those who don’t share our views. … When you have little interaction with those who don’t share your background or beliefs, it’s easy to view them as caricatures. It becomes easier to demonize or marginalize them. This results in the sort of fissures we have in America today and the normalization of summary political violence; we’ve all seen it. Left to fester, these dynamics lead to the downfall of societies.”

I could not have said it better myself, although I’ve tried.

Cindy Evans Ruffel and Lance Ruffel holding Dr. Nyla Ali Khan’s new book, “Educational Strategies for Youth Empowerment in Conflict Zones: Transforming, not Transmitting, Trauma” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021). File photo