Efforts are underway to form a metro-area chapter of an organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism, while promoting racial, religious and cultural understanding and respect.
A task force made up of local community leaders recently gathered to discuss the creation of an Oklahoma City arm of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice.
The organization currently is based in Tulsa, with donated office space in the OneOK building in downtown Tulsa.
Russ Florence, president and chief executive officer of Schnake Turnbo Frank consulting firm, said he called the group together to hear from Tulsa area leaders who are involved with the organization.
The Oklahoma organization is an affiliate of the National Conference for Community and Justice, formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
Florence, chairman-elect of the center's Executive Committee, said he and his family recently moved from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, and he wanted to see the organization become active in the metro area similar to how it operates in Tulsa.
Florence said Tulsans raised enough funding to become a locally funded entity when the national organization underwent a name change and reorganization about 10 years ago.
“That didn't happen in Oklahoma City,” he said.
Florence said there are many advocacy groups that promote cultural respect and understanding for all, but the center for community and justice brings all of these under one umbrella.
“As strong as our organizations are individually, I think we are stronger collectively than we are alone,” Florence said.
“Then, you are standing on much strong ground.”
Sanjay Meshri, the center's current Executive Committee chairman, said he would like to see the center expand into the metro area because he wants people who live outside Oklahoma to know most people in the state are tolerant of the differences of others.
Nancy Day, the center's president and chief executive officer, said the organization offers several programs to promote cultural awareness and understanding, including its flagship program Anytown Camp. The camp brings high school students together for diversity experiences.