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Scenes from Oklahoma's first Black History Day at the State Capitol

Throngs of people flooded the Oklahoma State Capitol Monday to take part in the first Black History Day held there.

Civil rights activists, artists, students and community leaders spoke and performed to a packed rotunda at the Capitol. After 2021’s House Bill 1775, Oklahoma’s so-called critical race theory ban, Black community leaders called attention to concerns of stifling historical discussion in the classroom.

“It might not be taught to you in the classroom, but it doesn’t make any difference. ‘Cause we can teach ourselves our history,” said Marilyn Luper Hildreth, daughter of civil rights icon Clara Luper.

Lawmakers are considering additional classroom content restrictions this session. But it’s unclear what their fate will be.

Oklahoma City rapper and activist Jabee spoke pointedly, criticizing the GOP supermajority of legislators.

“Republicans in this state have decided to make our classrooms, our teachers and our children their battleground — their battleground for racism,” he said.

Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter.
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