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Anti-bias group hopes to expand into Oklahoma City metro

A task force made up of metro community leaders recently gathered to discuss the creation of an Oklahoma City arm of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, an organization dedicated to fighting bias and bigotry while promoting racial, religious and cultural understanding and respect.
by Carla Hinton Modified: May 17, 2013 at 12:12 am •  Published: May 18, 2013

Day said the center's other programs include the Common Ground project which works to educate teachers about the role of religion in the public square in the context of the First Amendment; Ourtown Institute for adults, a retreat that promotes inclusion and diversity; Middletown Institute, an antiracism-anti-bullying program for Tulsa area middle schools; and the Interfaith Trialogue series, an annual dialogue event bringing together Christians, Jews and Muslims on a specific topic.

“We hope to make some traction and have some kind of footprint in Oklahoma City,” she said.

Businesses' support

Meanwhile, Florence said the Tulsa business community has played a key role in the center's success in that city.

Ted Haynes, president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, told those gathered that he values the center's work and has enjoyed his time on the center's board of directors. Haynes said he is especially pleased that the center's works to educate youths about the importance of respecting others.

“We can teach them when they are young,” he said.

People attending the recent task force gathering at the Raindrop Turkish House, 4444 N Classen, included the Rev. William Tabbernee, executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, Orhan Osman, a leader with the Institute of Interfaith Dialog; the Rev. George Young, senior pastor of Holy Temple Baptist Church; and Adam Soltani, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, among others.

Orhan Osman, a leader with the Institute of Interfaith Dialog-Oklahoma City chapter, said he welcomes OCCJ to the metro area because they have similar missions.

“Our goal is much the same — to bring together people of different cultures and backgrounds for dialogue and education,” he said.

“If we can get the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice here, there will be more opportunities to reach out for the common good.”

Florence said the group's next meeting will be held in about two months at Oklahoma City University.

He said he would like to see more people get involved in the effort to have a metro-area presence for the center.

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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