53 episodes

Focus: Black Oklahoma is a news and public affairs program covering topics relevant to the African American and BIPOC communities statewide. The show seeks to inform the public through stories and interviews, engage the community through lively discussion, and spotlight local artists and creators.

Focus: Black Oklahoma KOSU

    • News
    • 5.0 • 10 Ratings

Focus: Black Oklahoma is a news and public affairs program covering topics relevant to the African American and BIPOC communities statewide. The show seeks to inform the public through stories and interviews, engage the community through lively discussion, and spotlight local artists and creators.

    Episode 42

    Episode 42

    In May, Governor Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 4156, the controversial immigration legislation, into state law. The United States Justice Department reacted quickly by keeping its promise to file a lawsuit deeming the measure unconstitutional under the Supremacy clause. Proponents and opponents agree the law will drastically change the landscape of immigration in Oklahoma. As Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond prepares to defend House Bill 4156 in federal court and the federal government prepares to react days later in the same court, Shonda Little brings us statements from those fighting on both sides.
    In workplaces across the nation, many women quietly struggle with menstrual health issues that affect their well-being and productivity. Despite the impact of menstrual pain and the stigma that often surrounds it, necessary support and facilities like private restrooms and free sanitary products are often lacking. This gap highlights the urgent need to destigmatize menstruation and adopt more inclusive workplace policies. Zaakirah Muhammed has the story.
    Whether it's finding purpose, developing new skills, or giving back to the community that once cheered them on, Beyond the Ball is there to ensure that no athlete is left behind, reminding them that the game may have ended, but their journey has just begun. Anthony Cherry has more.
    Retirement usually signals a shift towards leisure, but for Katherine Penny Mitchell and Deborah J. Hunter, it marked the beginning of a new chapter in the Tulsa art scene. Mitchell now crafts stunning jewelry, including a permanent art installation at Vernon AME Church and Hunter has embraced spoken word, collaborating across genres. Their bold reinvention inspires women reimagining their own retirements. Here’s Francia Allen.
    The Legacy Open Rodeo on June 29th will be produced by Oklahoma's only female rodeo producer. Tiffany Guess spoke with FBO’s Jamie Glisson about how she got started in rodeo and what she hopes her legacy will be.
    Have you noticed the rising prices of, like- EVERYTHING these days?? Sondra Slade shares her unique perspective on gas and egg prices that blends humor with the practical realities of managing a household budget and the subtle ways in which rising costs influence family life and decision-making.
    Focus: Black Oklahoma is produced in partnership with KOSU Radio and Tri-City Collective. Additional support is provided by the Commemoration Fund.
    Our theme music is by Moffett Music.
    Focus: Black Oklahoma’s executive producers are Quraysh Ali Lansana and Bracken Klar. Our associate producers are Smriti Iyengar and Jesse Ulrich. Gabby Requer is our production assistant.

    • 56 min
    Episode 41

    Episode 41

    The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, considers a new way to alert the public when adults go missing. The tool looks a lot like the Kasey alerts that launched five months ago as a way to address the Missing & Murdered Indigenous People, or MMIP, crisis in Oklahoma. Both are similar to the AMBER alert & Silver alert system. KOSU / OPMX’s Sarah Liese reports on how the Kasey alert system is doing & what the new FCC tool could mean for Indigenous Nations throughout the U.S.
    At the end of April, Governor Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 1854 into law, criminalizing homelessness with the potential to incur misdemeanors & face a possible 15 days in jail. The new law, taking effect in November, does not provide new funding for housing Oklahomans without shelter. While Stitt & some Republicans tout the bill as a means for public protection, some Democrats say it will only amplify the problems unhoused Oklahomans face as well as add to already overburdened & overcrowded jails across the state. Shonda Little speaks with State Representative Forrest Bennett & a former unhoused Oklahoman about the law.
    During the pandemic, schools received a big boost from the federal government through the Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, or ESSER Fund. ESSER Funds are scheduled to end soon. StateImpact’s Beth Wallis reports, when that money ends, so may the after-school programs made possible by those funds.
    The recent recall election of Judd Blevins in Enid, which received national attention for his alleged ties with Nazi & white supremacist groups, led to a win for Republican challenger, Cheryl Patterson. All while Garfield County gears up for elections to be held on June 18. The Garfield County District One Commissioner seat is open- current Commissioner Marc Bolz stepped down. Three candidates are running for that position; Chris Bigbey, Assistant Lead County Foreman & Assistant Volunteer Fire Chief in Covington sat down with Venson Fields, while Joe Kegin & Jamie Hedges did not respond to an interview request. In the race for Garfield County Court Clerk, the current Court Clerk, Janelle Sharp, was run against challenger Kathy Voth, the current Accounts Manager for the Garfield County Criminal Justice Authority. Voth discusses her first campaign experience & what made her decide to run for office with Fields. Sharpe was unavailable for comment.
    Colon cancer is a major concern, especially for higher risk groups, like BIPOC communities. Zaakirah Muhammad speaks with local experts Dr. Christina Booth, University of Oklahoma's Associate Professor of Surgery & Chris Evans, president of the Colon Cancer Coalition, who emphasize early detection & addressing risk factors. While Katherine Anderson, the virtual director at City of Hope (formerly known as Cancer Treatment Centers of America), & Dee Terrell, Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, & Assistant Dean at the Hudson College of Public Health, & Alana Woodson, Dallas based co-creator at the Rare Company Collective speak about the colon cancer experience & mitigation.
    Thinking about protecting the environment, most of us focus on nature- plants, animals, ecosystems... For Michelle Cullom, it goes deeper. She sees it as protecting human life & spirit. From childhood vacations, bomb biscuits, & family rivalries, she connects everything through the nurturers keeping her safe. Michelle's story shows how maternal protectors guided her sometimes "boujee" journey.
    Focus: Black Oklahoma is produced in partnership with KOSU Radio and Tri-City Collective. Additional support is provided by the Commemoration Fund.
    Our theme music is by Moffett Music.
    Focus: Black Oklahoma’s executive producers are Quraysh Ali Lansana and Bracken Klar. Our associate producers are Smriti Iyengar and Jesse Ulrich.

    • 50 min
    Episode 40

    Episode 40

    After Oklahoma voters decisively passed State Question 802 in 2020, mandating expansion of Oklahoma's Medicaid coverage to low-income citizens similar to the Affordable Care Act, Governor Kevin Stitt has worked to privatize the joint federal and state run healthcare program. As SoonerCare transitions to SoonerSelect, on April 1, 2024, the program will be operated by three private companies; Aetna Better Health of Oklahoma, Humana Healthy Horizons, and Oklahoma Complete Health. As of March 10th, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, or OCHA, began auto-assigning members who had not selected their new plans. Shonda Little speaks with Jared Deck, State Representative for House District 44 in Norman and JeKia Harrison, President of the Young Democrats of Oklahoma, and a lifelong resident of northeast Oklahoma City to learn more about this transition and the concerns held by some about this change.
    In a groundbreaking achievement Traci Manuel, who both attended and taught at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, has etched her name into Oklahoma history books, becoming the first African American educator to claim the prestigious title of Teacher of the Year. Anthony Cherry speaks with her and Milton Dean III. Dean has been in education for 16 years with Tulsa Public Schools.  He currently serves at Street School, a nonprofit, alternative, therapeutic based school. Before that he spent four years at the Juvenile Detention Center, also known as the Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice to share more about Manuel's remarkable journey, from her teaching career to her statewide advocacy for a more inclusive and effective education system.
    Rebecca Marks Jimerson, the Commemorative Chair and Special Projects Chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Society, has a decade-long commitment to honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. Recently in Tulsa Jimerson produced a powerful partnership with the Jewish Federation of Tulsa, Circle Cinema, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Association of Black Journalists which shed light on the intertwined histories of Black people and Jewish people through a documentary entitled Shared Legacies: The African American-Jewish Civil Rights Alliance, directed by Jewish filmmaker, Dr. Shari Rogers of Detroit. Through her film she provides verbal accounts of how Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement were able to move forward with some of this momentum helped by support of allies of the interfaith community even coming together with Dr. King in the marches for equality. This included footage of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and other rabbis who were seen close to the front of several marches with Dr. King. This collaboration serves as a call to contemporary social justice movements to unite and continue Dr. King's vision of equality. Francia Allen attended the screening and speaks with Jimerson, Brae Riley, a board member and Chair of the Social Justice Sub-Committee of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa, and Ryan Thomas, the lead film programmer at Circle Cinema to expand on this powerful cooperation. To connect with the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Society visit mlktulsa.com, circlecinema.org for Circle Cinema, and the Jewish Federation of Tulsa at jewishtulsa.org. This story is part of a series exploring the relationship between the Black American community and the Jewish community in Tulsa. The series is sponsored by the Frank Family Foundation as a part of Tri-City Collective’s Acknowledge Oklahoma or A-OK project.
    As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, the Tulsa Council for Holocaust Education is hosting the 26th Annual Yom HaShoah: An...

    • 55 min
    Women's History Month-Maternal Mortality Rates & Doulas-Podcast Only Release

    Women's History Month-Maternal Mortality Rates & Doulas-Podcast Only Release

    This is a podcast special episode that combines three segments of our ongoing coverage of health inequities, especially as it relates to Black and Brown women. In the first story (originally aired on episode one in January 2021) Dr. Autumn Brown speaks with women who have experienced the trauma many Black women face during the process of childbirth. She speaks with Marnie Jackson and Laba Williams, Executive Director of the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative.
    In the second segment (originally aired on episode eight in August 2021) Britny Cordera explores the shared connections between Black and Native American women in their traditional birth practices and the practice of doulas. She speaks with Jaysha Lyons Echo Hawk, who is a two-spirit mother, birth worker, graduate student, and founder of Indigenous Milk Medicine Week. They are an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation and descendant of the Pawnee, Iowa, Omaha, and Creek Tribes. Britny also speaks with Ziara Kyre York who was brought to this doula activism through the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor stories.
    Finally we hear from Dr. Jabraan Pasha whose story originally aired on episode 26 in February of 2023. Dr. Pasha reconnects our listeners to Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative. This time Omare Jimmerson is Executive Director, taking over that position in September of 2022. Before Joining TBEI she served as Deputy Director for Tulsa Parks. Dr. Pasha also speaks with doula Ashlee Wilson.
    Focus: Black Oklahoma is produced in partnership with KOSU Radio and Tri-City Collective. Additional support is provided by the the Commemoration Fund.
    Our theme music is by Moffett Music.
    Focus: Black Oklahoma’s executive producers are Quraysh Ali Lansana and Bracken Klar. Our associate producers are Smriti Iyengar and Jesse Ulrich. Daryl Turner is our production intern.

    • 26 min
    Episode 39

    Episode 39

    The United States has been at the forefront of the global war on terror for more than two decades. Now one Oklahoma lawmaker, District 19 Republican State Representative Justin Humphrey, proposed House Bill 3133 seeking to expand that conflict by introducing a bill to designate people of Hispanic descent as “terrorists” if they’re convicted of certain crimes. Francia Allen speaks with Francisco Treviño of Casa de la Cultura and Blanca Zavala to examine the proposed bill and the amended version.
    Venson Fields takes us to Enid where voters preparing for a heated city council election. Allegations of white supremacist ties emerged and swirl around Commissioner Judd Blevins of Ward 1. The white supremacist allegations include Nazi ties to a white supremacy group, Identity Evropa. That group has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC and a white supremacist group by the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL. Identity Evropa participated in the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in August of 2017 where three lives were taken and dozens more injured. Led by Reverend Father James Neal of the Orthodox Catholic Church of America, at the Holy Cross-Enid parish and Kristi Balden, chairperson of the Enid Social Justice Committee and one of three incorporators of the Enid LGBTQ Plus Coalition. Balden credits Connie Vickers, Nancy Presnell, and Lanita Norwood for the research that turned up the ties and the Enid Social Justice Committee for mounting a campaign for Blevins's recall, aiming to confront hate in the community. The recall election will take place on 2 April 2024 and will pit recalled commissioner Blevins against Cheryl Patterson who has served on many public boards and committees in the past including the Enid Public School Board, the Enid Public School Foundation, the Human Services Alliance, and Foster Grandparents Board.
    On February 26, Texas’s largest wildfire broke out north of Stinnett in the panhandle. The next day the Smokehouse Creek fire crossed into Western Oklahoma, resulting in damaged property and the evacuation of multiple communities. The efforts of containment are being lead primarily by local volunteer fire departments with little budgetary help from the state of Oklahoma. Shonda Little speaks with survivors. The fire has amassing nearly 1.1 million acres to date and the fire is considered 89% contained. The National Weather Service and emergency management officials caution that embers and continued high winds could easily result in new fires that stem from it. Two human fatalities have been reported along with at least 3,600 dead cattle and that number is expected to grow. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller speaking with the New York Times said "just my prediction, but it will be 10,000 that will have died or will have to be euthanized." In Oklahoma Ellis and Roger Mills counties and the communities of Gage, Shattuck, Durham, and parts of Reydon were evacuated. Approximately 100,000 acres of western Oklahoma have burned. the deadly fire is now believed to be from a downed powerline, a constant threat during the area’s high fire risk days due to drought conditions. Xcel Energy said in a statement released on March 14th that "our facilities appear to have been involved in the ignition of the Smokehouse Creek Fire.” Shonda Little talks with Levi Blacketter the emergency management director for Roger Mills County, Derek Wood, and Kristal Slavin to relay more details from those living in the impacted areas.
    The Oklahoma Eagle, the 10th oldest Black-owned newspaper in the United States still publishing at 101 years old, has engaged in a new initiative to develop stronger relationships with its readers: The Trusting News Project. This is a campaign spearheaded by the Oklahoma Media Center in partnership with The Ecosystem Engagement Project. Oklahoma Eagle Managing Editor Gary Lee explains the goals of the project.
    The 25th White Privilege...

    • 51 min
    Episode 38

    Episode 38

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid program, or FAFSA, is undergoing significant changes, resulting in a critical need for college counselors. High School counselors help navigate changes which are vital for students facing the complexities of college admissions and financial aid. Anthony Cherry speaks with Jennifer Sack and Erica Walker. Sack is the lead school counselor at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa and currently holds the honor of Oklahoma State School Counselor of the Year. Sack advanced to become one of the five finalists considered by the American School Counselor Association for the National School Counselor of the Year. Walker is the lead counselor at Will Rogers College High School, also in Tulsa.
    In the U.S., homeownership is the largest driver of wealth creation for families. Yet, homeownership rates for Native Americans lag 15% behind their white American counterparts. Two Oklahoma realtors, Cori Taber (also a realtor in Arizona) and Ashley Daily, are devoting their careers to helping indigenous people utilize programs through the federal government and tribal nations to close the gap. Tabor is a 2SLGBTQIA+ woman descendant of three tribes — the Osage, Muskogee Creek, and Cherokee who is also a descendant of enslaved Africans. Daily grew up on the Osage Reservation and also identifies as Latina. Shonda Little breaks this all down.
    The 'Beyond Apology' report, released in early 2024, opens dialogue on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, fostering community engagement and emphasizing the need for reparative justice. These discussions and the resulting recommendations aim to collectively shape a more equitable future for Black Tulsans, acknowledging past injustices while seeking tangible solutions for healing and reparations. Greg Robinson, Bernice Alexander, and City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper further detail the report and its potential. Carlos Moreno has details.
    Retinoblastoma, a rare but aggressive eye cancer affecting children, challenges the way cells develop in the retina. Treatment options hinge on early detection, which creates disparities in health outcomes in lower socioeconomic populations with limited access to healthcare. Zaakirah Muhammad speaks with Marissa Gonzalez, president of the U.S. chapter of World Eye Cancer Hope, Melissa Mills, a part-time genetic counselor at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University, and Dr. Jesse Berry of Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the Roski Eye Institute also in L.A., to bring us new details and help us understand Retinoblastoma.
    In Checotah, summers with Sondra Slade’s grandparents were filled with laughter, life lessons, and a humorous mix-up about "Arthur?" This tale encapsulates the essence of childhood innocence, the strength of family bonds, and the enduring love that weaves through generations - plus drop biscuits!
    Focus: Black Oklahoma is produced in partnership with KOSU Radio and Tri-City Collective. Additional support is provided by the Commemoration Fund.
    Our theme music is by Moffett Music.
    Focus: Black Oklahoma’s executive producers are Quraysh Ali Lansana and Bracken Klar. Our associate producers are Smriti Iyengar and Jesse Ulrich. Our production intern is Daryl Turner.

    • 52 min

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