Recapping and clarifying Oklahoma City’s Black Lives Matter rally

“I couldn’t be more proud of the community and how we literally just came together and worked together. Everything was peaceful. People were handing out water, handing out snacks, making sure everything was the way it needed to be. I didn’t see a huge police presence, so that was quite encouraging to see.”

Andre’ M. Francisco, long-time Oklahoma City resident.

That quote came from a 62-year old resident that’s spent 60 years on the Eastside of Oklahoma City, OK, the largest historically black community in the state of Oklahoma. He has a wide scope of the black and white community dating back to 1960. This man has served as an educator for over 35 years in Oklahoma City Public Schools, starting at a predominately white John Marshal High School in the early 80s, and from there, a predominantly black Star Spencer High School for over a decade, Rogers Middle School, and Frederick A. Douglass High School for nearly 17 years. This man happens to be Andre’ M. Francisco, AKA my father.

His experience on the Eastside of Oklahoma City may not be overly relevant to the Black Lives Matter rally that took place on May 31, 2020, right off the intersection of N.E. 36th and Kelly, but he has credibility. His credibility is relevant when it comes to seeing historic rallies like this take place.

While this rally was huge, this isn’t the first rally he’s witnessed that brought this many people out.

“I was a little kid at the time in 1969. They had a garbage strike here that Clara Luper and Ben Tipton were instrumental in getting going. There was a huge protest behind that,” said Francisco. “I remember seeing it on TV. I wasn’t there, because I was so young at the time. But that’s the only time I can remember something igniting the neighborhood like this has now.”

For the record, the protest on May 31, 2020, was a peaceful protest and probably the most peaceful protest I’ve been a part of. It all started around 2:30 PM in the parking lot of the formerly known Springlake Event Center. About halfway through, half of the crowd left to march south on Kelly Ave., en route to the State Capitol.

Right before folks started to march, Aurelius M. Francisco took the stage to give his speech (yes, another family member) and gave his speech. Francisco spent four years at the University of Oklahoma doing the same thing he did at this rally: rallying people and speaking facts to a large group of people to promote a more inclusive equal world for all people.

Here’s Francisco talking briefly about this very peaceful protest.

There was a turning point, though. While the protest, the true protest scheduled from 2:30 to 4:30 PM, was everything it was supposed to be and more, some rioters with ulterior motives went on a quest of their own.

There was a clear demographical difference between the protestors during the day and the rioters into the night, which is why I take offense to people saying things like “the protestors are still…etc.” While the protestor-to-rioter split was 80/20 during the day, it flipped to 20/80 by night, and of that 80 percent, approximately 65 percent were young, probably college-aged white kids that had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter.

It’s important to point out the difference between the two. I’ve noticed the people that didn’t have much to do with the protest outside of [maybe] checking the news periodically, are the ones trying to associate the protest with the riots that took place later in the evening, and that’s simply untrue.

The Black Lives Matter protest that took place on the Eastside of Oklahoma City was peaceful, and everything it should have been. Don’t let certain news outlets or people that aren’t 100 percent for the cause tell you otherwise. I was there, front-and-center, and witnessed everything. Job well done. Black Lives Matter.

About the author

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.


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