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Oklahoma Sen. Lankford apologizes to black Tulsa residents for objecting to Electoral College vote

"I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry" – Lankford wrote in an apology letter.

James Lankford
James Lankford (R-OK) listens to a reporters question prior to entering a closed luncheon meeting, Sep. 24, 2020
(Liz Lynch/Getty Images)
Updated: January 15, 2021 - 1:45pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Oklahoma GOP Sen. James Lankford has apologized to the black community of Tulsa for objecting to the Electoral College vote that certified Democrat Joe Biden as the next president,

"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," Lankford said in an apology letter. "As a United States Senator representing almost four million Oklahomans, I am committed to hearing from all Oklahomans, answering questions, and addressing our challenges to strive toward a more perfect union. In this instance, I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you. I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry."

Lankford said in the letter, obtained by Tulsa World newspaper, that his actions to question the validity of the election results in many black communities such as those in Atlanta, Detroit and Philadelphia caused many residents to think he was invalidating their vote, which he said was not his intention.

"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 said. "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."

In December, Lankford signed onto a letter from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, stating that he would object to the Electoral College count unless a commission was made to provide a 10-day audit of President Trump's claims of voter fraud.

He decided not to object following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 by in which protesters seized the U.S. Capitol Building in objection to Congress certifying the Electoral College vote.

Lankford said in the letter that he acknowledges that 2021 is the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, where more than 300 people were killed by a white mob in June of 1921.

Black leaders in Tulsa have called for the removal or resignation of Lankford from the 1921 Race Massacre Centennial Committee as a result of his opposition to the certification of the Electoral College vote.

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