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PM NewsBrief: June 27, 2024

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for June 27, 2024.

Oklahoma City Leaders Begin Planning For Hosting 2028 Olympic Events

Oklahoma City is expected to host softball and canoe slalom events during the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Mayor David Holt addressed the media Thursday to provide a few more details.

Mayor Holt discussed the public reaction to the Olympics coming to OKC, and seemed relieved to finally be able to talk about it after years of behind the scenes efforts.

“The reaction to the news in OKC has been nothing short of euphoric. I have had the opportunity to experience these emotions for a bit longer. Six years, in fact,” Holt said.

“But I can attest that the excitement doesn’t wane. For a kid who grew up in OKC, the prospect of our city hosting LA28 Olympic events is amazing and historic,” Holt continued.

Los Angeles is the official host city for the 2028 Summer Games, and the process isn’t complete. The plan for venue sites still needs to be approved by the LA City Council.

Oklahoma Executes Its Longest Serving Death Row Inmate

Oklahoma carried out an execution today on its longest-serving death row inmate.

Richard Rojem, 66, was executed at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester via lethal injection on Thursday. His time of death was 10:16 a.m.

Rojem was convicted of the 1984 kidnapping, rape, and murder of his former stepdaughter, Layla Cummings.

Rojem had been sentenced to death for the murder three separate times - his first two convictions were thrown out due to trial errors, but he was given the death penalty for the third time by a Custer County jury in 2007.

This was the state’s second execution of 2024, following the execution of Michael DeWayne Smith in April.

There are no more executions scheduled for this year, and moving forward they will be scheduled with 90 day intervals.

Greenwood Educators in Tulsa Fill Gaps With Summer Program on Black Wall Street History

While teaching history in Oklahoma classrooms has become more difficult, educators in Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood are taking steps to fill in the gaps.

A summer program is instructing kids on the history of Black Wall Street.

The Greenwood Cultural Center in North Tulsa has been holding a summer camp for kids to learn the history of the neighborhood that surrounds them.

Tulsa-raised author Charity Barton teaches the kids about businesses that made up Black Wall Street.

Barton released a children’s book this year called ‘We Did That’ focused on Black entrepreneurship.

She says what she’s teaching needs to reach more students, pointing to the death of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

“The program—I do see it as being a way to reach kids at a time when DEI has been taking a hit. -- I think there’s gotta be the people that are willing to kind of step up and fill in the gaps because it still has to be taught," said Barton.

Oklahoma law prohibits public school teachers from teaching history in a way that makes any student feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress.”

Opponents say the law muddies the teaching of historical racism.

Resources For LGBTQ+ Indigenous Young People

A recent report finds that community services are needed to support Indigenous LGBTQ+ young people.

One organization works to fill that need.

The organization Cousins meets twice a month for “talking circles” with Two-Spirit and LGBTQ youth. The goal: provide a safe space for young LGBTQ-plus and Two-spirit people.

A recent report by the Trevor Project found Indigenous LGBTQ-plus youth face higher rates of anxiety, depression and self-harm.

Cousins co-founder Sarah Adams says statistics like that make the organization a valuable resource.

“If there is somebody that you know that you can talk to and you can be honest with, that's a lifeline,” Adams said.

The Trevor Project noted that community services that support young LGBQ+ Indigenous youth are imperative, and more funding is needed to aid in these efforts.

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