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'Focus: Black Oklahoma': custody battle between same-sex parents, economic inclusion for refugees, Tulsa's hip-hop history

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Dr. Chris McNeil, left, started the Youth Medical Mentorship Program, which is working to change the disparity of Blacks in medicine.
Jamie Glisson
Dr. Chris McNeil, left, started the Youth Medical Mentorship Program, which is working to change the disparity of Blacks in medicine.

This episode of Focus: Black Oklahoma features reports on a same-sex custody battle, how a local organization is advocating for refugee rights, and the history of hip-hop in Tulsa.

Parenting is hard and determining what constitutes a family is even harder. Oklahoma Law has no precedent for a same-sex custody battle. Yet, Kris Williams finds herself in the midst of a struggle for parental rights. Shonda Little has the story.

The American Dream is fairly elusive, even for the people who were born and raised in the United States. Economic inclusion and self-sufficiency for refugees are priorities of the University of Oklahoma’s Humanitarian Innovation Research Group, or OU HIRG. Anthony Cherry has the story about the organization and how they are advocating for refugee rights.

The need for representation across a variety of industries has been lacking for years. In particular, Black physicians are few and far between. Dr. Jabraan Pasha has details about the Youth Medical Mentorship Program, which is working to change the disparity of Blacks in medicine.

Against the backdrop of divisive social, cultural, and political rhetoric, as the state of Oklahoma continues to see a rise in legislation banning race and gender diversity in education, restricting reproductive health and autonomy, and restricting 2SLGBTQIA+ rights, the initiatives, programs, and services of social justice organizations in the state have become increasingly sought after, especially to equip and support young people in the approach and navigation of these complex conversations.

For over eight decades, one of the state’s oldest inclusivity-focused nonprofits, Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, or OCCJ, has worked to promote understanding and mutual respect through advocacy, conflict resolution and educational programs. OCCJ started as a volunteer movement chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, formally establishing the Tulsa branch in 1958. In 2005, OCCJ became independent of that national organization. Through their initiatives and programs, they continue to do the work of elevating voices and educating world citizens. On February 6th, Phil Armstrong was officially welcomed as the OCCJ’s new president and chief executive officer. Juddie Williams has the story.

In an effort to reinvigorate Greenwood and the health of its citizens, the Historic Greenwood District Main Street is launching Greenwood Go, an initiative to ensure more people have healthy bodies to walk the historic District but also spur healthy commerce in the community. Sondra Slade shares details.

Though Tulsa’s moniker as the Rose Capital has been long gone, there are still beautiful flowers all around town that highlight the history made here. As Tulsa enjoys this renaissance in arts, the people of the city have committed to give its flowers to the artists that showcase its beauty. Chaz Stephens has the story.

Focus: Black Oklahoma is produced in partnership with KOSU Radio, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, and Tri-City Collective. Additional support is provided by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and the Commemoration Fund.

Our theme music is by Moffett Music.

Focus: Black Oklahoma’s executive producers are Quraysh Ali Lansana and Bracken Klar. Our associate producers are Smriti Iyengar and Jesse Ulrich.

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