On Thursday, Republican Senator James Lankford, of Oklahoma, wrote a letter apologizing to his constituents for opposing the Electoral College results, saying he didn’t realize the attempt would cast doubt “on the validity of votes coming out of predominantly Black communities” in Tulsa.
In his letter, first reported by Tulsa World, Lankford addresses “My friends in North Tulsa” and acknowledges 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.”
Last month, the Oklahoma Republican signed onto a letter from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) saying he would vote against the Electoral College results unless a commission was formed to provide a 10-day audit of President Trump’s debunked claims of voter fraud. He later backed down from attempts to continue the challenge after a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol.
Lankford wrote in his letter that it was never his intention to “disenfranchise any voter or state,” but wanted to resolve “any outstanding questions” before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
“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.
“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 continued.
Lankford acknowledged in his letter that 2021 will be the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, where at least 300 black Tulsa residents were killed by a white mob on June 1, 1921.
Black leaders in Tulsa have called for Lankford’s removal or resignation from the 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Committee because of his support for the Electoral College challenge, The Tulsa World reported.
“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 concluded. “I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry.”