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Economic hardship threatens Oklahoma’s historic Black towns



Economic hardship threatens Oklahoma’s historic Black towns


Black leaders in Oklahoma want to keep the state’s historic freedmen towns alive. They were established after the Civil War on Indian land but are now experiencing economic hardship. Elizabeth Caldwell from member station KWGS reports there’s no clear path to how they could survive.


ELIZABETH CALDWELL, BYLINE: In eastern Oklahoma at the Honey Springs Visitor Center, director Adam Lynn is telling a tour group about the largest Civil War battle that took place here in Indian country.


ADAM LYNN: Most importantly, this is thought to be one of the most culturally, if not the most culturally diverse conflict to take place in the entire Civil War. That’s a large statement since there were over 10,000 battles, skirmishes, and conflicts that took place.

CALDWELL: The Union’s first Black soldiers fought at Honey Springs in the summer of 1863 alongside members of the Creek, Cherokee, and Seminole nations. Lynn says the Black soldiers deserve a lot of credit.

LYNN: They played a large role in Union victory here. They were the very first African American regiment to see combat in the entire Civil War, as well.

CALDWELL: After the Union won the war, the tribes, in negotiation with the federal government, granted their former slaves land. These freedmen helped to create at least 50 all-Black towns in Oklahoma. Cymone Davis is the former town manager of Oklahoma’s oldest historically Black town, Tullahassee. She says freedmen’s towns are important not only for historical reasons but because they set examples for ownership.

CYMONE DAVIS: Black towns are governed by a municipal boundary line or trustees and city councils who are of the community – same people – Black people, Black town, Black mayor, Black council. And so it’s really important for us to see ourselves in these roles, knowing that we are guiding our own future. And that’s what Black towns represent.


CALDWELL: There are about 13 historic all-Black towns in Oklahoma still operating today, but most are rural with tiny populations. Not all residents are Black, and people are leaving for better opportunities. Tullahassee doesn’t even have a place to shop for food. Lori Thompson, who assists Tullahassee’s mayor, says she’d like to see a small store in the community.

LORI THOMPSON: But, of course, we – you know, we would love to have big things and, you know, have a real grocery store and that type of stuff. That would be great, too, but got to start small.

CALDWELL: At least the town has a community center and hopes its history could attract visitors. About 30 miles away is another all-Black town called Rentiesville. It’s home to the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame. Volunteer Shelly Zaikis says an annual blues festival is largely funded by grants and donations.

SHELLY ZAIKIS: It’s not, like, a real moneymaker, you know? It’s more for the heart of the music. And the musicians just – they have to play.

CALDWELL: A lot of people come just for the festival. The mayor of Rentiesville, Mildred Burkhalter, says her town of 135 people has hopes for an RV park and a gift shop to offer a place for tourists to stay year-round.


MILDRED BURKHALTER: We have big ideas, but the main thing is we have to have the resources to put those things in place.

CALDWELL: Where to find those resources is not clear, but Burkhalter says with growing restrictions on how Black history is taught in school, preserving these towns matters.

BURKHALTER: The history – it can’t be told the way you want to tell it, so the only way you’re going to know about it is that you’re going to have to pay visits. You’re going to have to come in to these little towns and see what it’s all about.

CALDWELL: Burkhalter says for however long her town is on the map, that history will remain alive. For NPR News, I’m Elizabeth Caldwell in Rentiesville, Okla.

(SOUNDBITE OF LOWELL FULSON’S “LOW SOCIETY”) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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OUInsider – Player grades from Oklahoma’s 72-51 win over Providence



OUInsider  –  Player grades from Oklahoma’s 72-51 win over Providence

The Sooners moved to 8-0 as they beat Providence 72-51. Oklahoma’s backcourt duo Javian McCollum and Milos Uzan shined in a massive win for this team. Let’s take a look at how McCollum, Uzan, and six other Sooners graded out in the eighth win of the season.


Javian McCollum: A+

Sooners guard Javian McCollum (2) dribbling during Oklahoma’s matchup against Providence (Alonzo Adams)

In 34 minutes played, McCollum totaled a team-high and game-high 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals, and three turnovers. He shot 4-9 from the field, 3-7 behind the arc, and 2-2 from the free-throw line. McCollum’s offensive rating was 111, and his usage rate was 29. He was incredible. McCollum shined and was a significant problem for the Friars. He made multiple challenging shots and did a great job of taking what the defense gave him and knocking down the mid-range shots. McCollum is an elite player, and it is becoming more apparent.

Milos Uzan: A+

Oklahoma guard Milos Uzan (12) dribbling down the baseline
Oklahoma guard Milos Uzan (12) dribbling down the baseline (Alonzo Adams)

Uzan had a breakout game. In 34 minutes played, he had his first career double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. In addition to the double-double, he had four steals and a block. He shot 8-12 on two-pointers. Uzan had an offensive rating of 135 and a usage rate of 19. He played his best game of the season in the biggest game the Sooners have played so far. Uzan did the damage with his floater, which was there all game long for him. He also had many impressive drives. It was surprising to see him get a double-double with no assists on the night. His performance in this game is the type of performance that is expected of Uzan. He showed up in a big way.

Otega Oweh: B+

Oweh played 34 minutes and had 13 points, four turnovers, three rebounds, a block, and a steal. He shot 2-3 on two-pointers, 2-4 on three-pointers, and 3-3 on free throws. Oweh’s offensive rating was 106, and his usage rate was 18. He struggled for a large portion of the game but turned it up towards the end of the game. For the first time in his career, Oweh knocked down multiple three-pointers. He was not able to athletically outmatch the opponent, but once he adjusted, he started playing well.


Jalon Moore: B-

Moore played 17 minutes and posted just 2 points, two rebounds, two turnovers, an assist, and a block. His offensive rating was 52 and his usage rate was 15. Moore shot 1-2 on two-pointers and 1-2 on three-pointers. It was a quiet night offensively, and he did not play that many minutes due to foul trouble. He still provided good defense and was great at doubling Providence’s bigs.

Sam Godwin: A

Forward Sam Godwin (10) dunking the basketball
Forward Sam Godwin (10) dunking the basketball (Alonzo Adams)

Godwin returned to the starting lineup after being sick last week. He quietly had an amazing performance. In 23 minutes he totaled 12 points, four rebounds, two turnovers, two steals, and a block. Godwin had a usage rate of 20 and an offensive rating of 135. He shot 5-6 on two-pointers and 2-2 on free throws. Godwin made winning plays. He typically struggles against super-athletic opponents, but that was not the case in this game. He did so many little things right and played well in the pick-in-roll.


John Hugley: B

Hugley played 17 minutes and had 6 points, three rebounds, one assist, one block, one steal, and one turnover. He shot 2-6 on two-pointers, 0-2 on three-pointers, and 2-3 on free throws. His offensive rating was 80, and his usage rate was 30. It was a quiet night for Hugley, but he started to make an impact late in the game. He struggled some defensively but ultimately had a solid performance.

Le’Tre Darthard: B

In 26 minutes, Darthard did not score but had one assist, rebound, and steal. He was 0-2 on two-pointers and 0-2 on three-pointers. Darthard’s offensive rating was 19, and a usage rate of 6. He did not do anything offensively, but his defense was solid. He did a solid job on Providence’s Devin Carter when matched up with him.

Rivaldo Soares: B

Soares played 15 minutes and had 3 points and one assist, rebound, turnover, and block. He shot 0-1 from inside the arc and 1-3 from behind the arc. His usage rate was 16, and his offensive rating was 77. Soares had a quiet night offensively but did many little things well and played great defense. It was a solid performance from him.


Kenpom MVP: Milos Uzan

Highest-graded player(s): Uzan and McCollum (A+)

Lowest-graded player(s): Moore (B-)

Team average: B+

Next up: The 8-0 Oklahoma Sooners will face the 6-3 Arkansas Razorbacks at the BOK Center on Saturday, December 9th at 3:00 p.m.

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What Will Happen to the Religious Charter School in Oklahoma?



What Will Happen to the Religious Charter School in Oklahoma?

If students begin at the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School next fall, they’re set to experience religious teachings incorporated into their lessons. That is if America’s first-ever religious charter school — which critics argue violates the constitutional separation of church and state — is able to skirt legal blows and operate as the first U.S. school of its kind. 

After Oklahoma’s attorney general sued earlier this fall and entered the fray, we corresponded with TC’s Samuel Abrams, who leads the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, to discuss this development in the battle for education and what’s next. 

Key Takeaways:

  • A religious charter school is just the latest legal maneuver in a decades-long effort to privatize education, Abrams says
  • This development poses risks to funding for education broadly and education quality, all within pre-existing concerns about the efficacy of charter schools, explains Abrams

Read on for the full conversation with Abrams. 

Q: The press speculates that this legal battle will span years, and could possibly reach the Supreme Court. In your view, what conditions put the potential of religious charter schools into motion? How did we get here?

SA: We got here the same way we got to the Supreme Court decisions authorizing the use of vouchers at religious schools in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in 2002, tuition tax-credit scholarships at religious schools in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue in 2020, and taxpayer funding of enrollment at religious schools through so-called town-tuitioning programs in Carson v. Makin in 2022.


The concept of religious charter schools is merely the next logical step for advocates of public funding for private education and it would mean vastly more public money going to religious education. Justice Stephen Breyer, in fact, anticipated precisely this development in the oral arguments for Espinoza when he asked the lawyer for the plaintiffs if funding of religious schools through tuition tax-credit scholarships ultimately meant the government should fund religious charter schools. This matter has, in essence, thus already made it to the Supreme Court.

Samuel E. Abrams, Director of TC’s National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education. (Photo: TC Archives) 

The road to this point has been paved by supporters of educational privatization. And we can trace this road back to a memorandum to the chairman of the Education Committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce written by Lewis Powell in 1971, soon before he joined the Supreme Court himself as an appointee of President Nixon.

In that memorandum, Powell wrote that the left was steadily encroaching on liberty and free enterprise and that the only way to reverse the tide was to win the battle of messaging, which would, in turn, require significant investment in think tanks and advocacy organizations to churn out reports explaining and extolling the wisdom of the market.


In his 2012 book on income polarization, Who Stole the American Dream?, Hedrick Smith used Powell’s memorandum as his point of departure. We can likewise do the same in assessing the growing privatization of education.

The concept of religious charter schools is merely the next logical step for advocates of public funding for private education and it would mean vastly more public money going to religious education…The road to this point has been paved by supporters of educational privatization.

Sam Abrams

In the wake of Powell’s memorandum surfaced one think tank or advocacy organization after another pushing for educational privatization as well as many other market-driven reforms. Both the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (better known as ALEC) were established in 1973. The CATO Institute was established in 1977. The Alliance for School Choice was established in 1990 (and renamed the American Federation for Children Growth Fund in 2004). The Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice was established in 1996 (and renamed EdChoice in 2016). And the Charter School Growth Fund was established in 2004. These organizations together spend tens of millions of dollars a year getting out the message for educational privatization. In addition, they helped finance the lawsuits that led to the Supreme Court decisions in Zelman, Espinoza, and Carson.

Q: Aside from threatening public school enrollment, what kind of implications do religious charter schools pose for students and families? 

SA: The problem with religious charter schools would be the same problem — but on a much larger scale —that we already see with vouchers used to fund enrollment at religious schools. We’re losing the common ground that public schools, however imperfectly, long afforded this country. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissent in Zelman, “Whenever we remove a brick from the wall that was designed to separate religion and government, we increase the risk of religious strife and weaken the foundation of our democracy.”


Stevens was worried 21 years ago that the divisions defining Ireland, the Balkans, and the Middle East could open up here if we failed to safeguard shared space. Indeed, the last thing we need in this country is more division. 

Supreme Court. (Photo: iStock)

In addition, the religious indoctrination that Stevens saw as basic to such division necessarily gets in the way of a proper understanding of science. 

Creationism, for example, has no place in biology classes. For something to be scientifically true, it must be falsifiable. But concepts like creationism are articles of faith. They can’t be falsified. Creationism is nevertheless widely taught in religious schools. And the problem with such misguided instruction does not stop with a mischaracterization of physical, chemical, and biological phenomena. As consequential, if not more, is the mischaracterization of scientific method. Students need to learn how to evaluate evidence in no matter the domain, from assessing global warming and understanding vaccines to judging the legitimacy of election results. 

Q: Given the ongoing debate surrounding inclusive curriculum in public schools, one could make the argument that another option for more conservative parents could diffuse the tension and let families more easily opt-out of curriculum they don’t agree with while still offering a less limited curriculum in public schools. Why do some view religious charter schools as a problem rather than a solution?


SA: The problem is the likelihood of insufficient regulation. If religious charter schools operate like many conventional religious schools, there won’t be sufficient supervision of curricula, adequate credentialing of teachers, or proper protocol for student admissions and re-enrollment. 

Whenever we remove a brick from the wall that was designed to separate religion and government, we increase the risk of religious strife and weaken the foundation of our democracy.

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

Q: While some leaders are excited about a religious charter school, other religious leaders have opposed this potential policy shift, arguing that accepting public funding undermines the religious education model that offers more autonomy and can navigate with fewer regulations. Meanwhile, other critics also point out that while charter schools are required to be open to all students, it is unclear if religious charters would be required to accept students from LGBTQ+ families, etc. At the heart of this is a debate on what is best for students. Based on existing charter school research, what do we already know?

SA: Existing charter school research indicates substantial problems with barriers to entry as well as forced attrition. It stands to reason that such problems would only be exacerbated by the introduction of religious charter schools. 

As for what’s next, we can expect the case to continue to make its way through the legal system. Stay tuned for more insight from Sam Abrams and other TC experts on the issue. 


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What channel is Oklahoma State vs. Southern Illinois basketball on today? Time & schedule



What channel is Oklahoma State vs. Southern Illinois basketball on today? Time & schedule


Coach Mike Boynton and the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team will look to get back to .500 on the road against Southern Illinois, a mid-major team that upset the Cowboys a year ago.


Here’s what you need to know about the Cowboys (3-4) and Salukis (5-2):

More: Oklahoma State basketball: Breaking down the Cowboys’ roster for the 2023-24 season

What time does Oklahoma State basketball vs. Southern Illinois start?

  • Date: Tuesday, Dec. 5
  • Time: 8:05 p.m. CT
  • Where: Bantera Center in Carbondale, Illinois

The Cowboys and Salukis will tip off their non-conference college basketball game at 8:05 p.m. CT.

More: Five things to know about Oklahoma State men’s basketball team for 2023-24 season


What channel is Oklahoma State vs. Southern Illinois basketball on today?

Dave Ryan and Tre Demps will be the announcing crew for the CBS Sports Network game.

Oklahoma State vs. Southern Illinois betting odds

Odds courtesy of BetMGM as of Monday, Dec. 4

  • Spread: Oklahoma State (-1.5)
  • Over/under: 154.5
  • Moneyline: OSU -130 | SIU +105

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