The City of Lawton is accepting applications from residents interested in serving on a commission tasked with identifying racial barriers and promoting racial unity and equality in the city.
Ward 7 Councilwoman Onreka Johnson said applications will be accepted through noon Monday, with an informal information meeting slated for 5:30 p.m. Friday to explain the concept and process. Johnson is one of three council members appointed in June to a council study committee that is setting the guidelines that will recreate the City of Lawton Race Relations Commission.
Study committee members said the commission will be comprised of 11 community members, to be selected from residents who complete an application that is available through the City of Lawton website. Those selections will be made Aug. 7.
Mayor Stan Booker, who initiated the agenda item that the council used to direct creation of the commission, said the intent is to enhance dialogue and continue clear communications in an era with rising racial tensions. He said members of the community had met in the weeks following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and suggested a commission as a way of keeping “the conversation going.”
“We have the most racially diverse community in the state,” Booker said, saying the Race Relations Commission will be similar to the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women, a group that provides information and recommendations to the mayor but also works independently on issues identified by its members.
Booker said his three appointees to the study committee — Johnson (who is chair), Ward 1 Councilwoman Mary Ann Hankins and Ward 5 Councilman Allan Hampton — were selected because they all have a background in social sciences.
Johnson said commission will be charged with identifying racial barriers, promoting racial unity, and working with community partners to provide solutions for change. She said its mission is to create a community where people feel they are treated with fairness by having equitable opportunities for growth and access tools for success.
In the application, residents will be asked to rank four goals in order of importance:
• Community outreach: host forums and community conversations to identify racially related concerns, issues and challenges. The goal is to identify and implement citywide solutions.
• Racial equality: collaborate with community-based groups, agencies and organizations to help identify issues and seek out solutions to racial challenges within city government.
• Community empowerment: link adults and youth to resources in the community to help meet individual needs to maintain and/or obtain success.
• Cross cultural engagement: collaborate with local partners to host cultural competency, sensitivity and race relations workshops and training for the community and local government.
After the application period ends, study committee members will review the applications, with an interview board to meet with and make recommendations on membership. Members will be appointed by Booker.
The commission’s tasks will include: provide updates on progress, information and recommendations to the City Council; develop and ensure the implementation of specific action plans; establish collaborative partnerships for tasks such as hosting community conversations; collaborate with community-based groups to identify issues and seek solutions; and host cultural competency and sensitivity workshops focused on race relations.
Applications may be downloaded from the City of Lawton website: lawtonok.gov/sites/default/files/publications/2020-07/RRC%20Application_0.pdf. Completed forms may be returned via e-mail to email@example.com or returned in person to the city manager’s office, Lawton City Hall, Southwest 9th and C.