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 DR. KERR'S CAREER TESTIMONY


 DR. KERR'S ARMS & TARTAN


 TULSA RACE WAR:
BACKGROUND


 TULSA RACE WAR OF 1921


 COURTHOUSE LYNCH MOB


 DR. KERR CONFRONTS MOB


 THE GREENWOOD BLACK COMMUNITY


 SANCTUARY FOR THE GREENWOOD BLACKS


. DESTRUCTION OF GREENWOOD


 MAN SAVED FROM LYNCHING


 DR. KERR REJECTS 'INTER-RACIAL COMMITTEE'


 LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE GREENWOOD BLACK


 LEGAL ANALYSIS OF RACE WAR


 DR. KERR AND THE 'COMMON PLAN'


 DR. KERR OFFERS RESIGNATION


 DR. KERR CONFRONTS TULSA LEADERSHIP


 OIL RICH TULSANS


 SCOTTISH CLANS & WHITE TRASH


 KERR REMAINS IN TULSA


 THE WORLD'S FIRST BAG PIPE OPERA


 OUTLINE


LegalDr. Kerr offers resignation as Pastor to seek justice for Greenwood Blacks racially oppressed by the City of Tulsa:  

Dr. Charles W. Kerr's intervention at the Courthouse on the night of Tuesday, 31st May 1921 provoked a fire storm of indignation from the Southern faction of his sectionally divided First  Presbyterian   Church  congregation:  The congregation was split almost 50-50 between Northern Unionist and Southern Confederate fractions: The American Civil War had ended less than sixty years before, and there were still many Veterans from both sides still living.  

The Southern fraction of his Congregation attacked Dr. Kerr's actions of turning the First Church into a Holyroodhouse-type sanctuary for the Greenwood refugees, donating the Church's Boy Scout camping equipment to the Black refugees, and, especially for spending Church Funds without the express authorisation of the Session of Ruling Elders:  

Under Presbyterian Church law, the Elders  -- not  the Pastor --  governs each local congregation. Strictly speaking under Church law,  Dr.  Kerr should have called a meeting of the Session to open the Church as a sanctuary and to spend Church Funds to care for the  Greenwood  Black  refugees.  

Dr.  Kerr  donated his church's Boy Scout equipment for homeless Blacks:

The  Southern  fraction  of  his  congregation  almost  succeeded…  

The sectional issue came to a 'head' when statements totaling several thousand dollars for caring for the Greenwood refugees were presented to the Elders for payment.   As at Ft. Sumter the Southerners fired the first shot:  Dr. Kerr had violated Presbyterian Church law by opening the Church as a sanctuary and spending all  of that money without having obtained the required consent of the Session of Ruling  Elders.  

To prevent a split in the Congregation, both the Northern and Southern Elders agreed to hold off-the-record   meetings to resolve this and related issues and to avoid washing the Church's dirty linen  in public.   Later, the Session merely ratified  such compromises.  

Announcement for  benefit  of  Southern  fraction  reads:

'Children's  day  postponed  until  June  12.  Church  well  fumigated.  Attend  services  today.'  

To  satisfy  the  racialism  of  Southern  faction  and  the  Copperheads  [Northern  men  with  Southern  principles]  who  thought  of all Blacks  as  being  the carriers  of lice  and  social  disease,   Dr.  Kerr  was  force  to  go  to  the expense  of having the whole  church  fumigated and the entire basement and kitchen  area  of the old domed First  Church  and  all  of  the toilets in  the  church  professionally  sanitised:   

Southern  ladies  would  not  use  toilets  upon  which a Black  woman had sat.  Southern men were afraid of catching syphilis by touching bathroom door knobs which Black men had used.  These Southerners angrily accused Dr. Kerr of needlessly exposing them to 'Negro disease' by giving refuge in the First Presbyterian Church to the Greenwood Blacks.  These Southerners refused to attend Sunday services     until Dr. Kerr had the entire church  fumigated:  'Christianity ' …  Tulsa style….  

Dr.  Kerr explained to these informal meetings of the Session that as  the situation was an emergency which could not be foreseen,  there was no time to contact the Session, and given the medieval tradition of Churches as a place of refuge     going  back  to  the old Holyroodhouse sanctuary in Edinburgh, he felt it appropriate under the circumstances to open the First Church  as a haven for the Black refugees.  Moreover, the very words of Jesus, Himself, re Matthew 25 demand Christians to succour all refugees  --  irrespective  of  Colour  --  as would have Jesus,  Himself.  

With respect to the Church monies used to feed, house, clothe, and assist the refugees and the donation of Boy Scout equipment, in a very  dignified manner Dr. Charles W. Kerr told the Session, 'Mrs. Kerr and I have our life's savings.  We will be happy to reimburse the Church for the entire costs of caring for these unfortunate Freedmen burnt out of their own homes by this City who came to our Church looking for shelter as did Joseph and Mary when they came to the Bethlehem Inn.'  

The Northern,  Unionist Elders rallied to his assistance:  Dr. Kerr's actions reminded them of stories their own grandparents had told them about the underground railroad days before the Civil War and helping runaway slaves escape to freedom. Some of the Northern Elders were quite wealthy.  They took up a collection amongst themselves to reimburse the First Church for monies expended caring for the refugees.  A wealthy Northerner replaced all the Boy Scout camping gear with even better equipment.  

In fulfillment of his solemn promise to the Blacks taking refugee in his First Presbyterian Church, after the report of the four lawyers Dr. Charles W. Kerr concluded that the only possible means for obtaining substantive justice for the injured Black people of Greenwood was by petitioning Congress to conduct a formal Congressional Investigation of the Tulsa Race War and for the Federal enactment of the needed Congressional Declaration.  

Dr. Charles W. Kerr wanted his Session of Ruling Elders to formally join   with him in submitting this Petition to Congress requesting a full  Congressional Investigation of the Tulsa Race War.  

When Dr. Charles W. Kerr privately requested the Ruling Elders in another off the record meeting to join  with  him  in formally petitioning  Congress,  something hit the fan and it wasn't a hymnal:   

Angry as Jefferson Davis, the Southern Elders immediately threatened to split the Congregation by succeeding from the First Presbyterian Church. Moreover they threatened to form a new congregation under Southern Presbyterian   [i.e., the Confederate pro-slavery  church]   auspices:  

One of the Southern Elders declared in a private meeting called to discuss the situation, 'A Preacher should not involve himself with political matters.  A Preacher should stick to religion and saving souls.'  Other Southern Elders accused Dr. Kerr of running around with 'a crowd of loose Nigger ministers'  and of 'supporting some of the most dangerous people in Tulsa.'  

Dr  &  Mrs.  Charles  W.  Kerr,

Pastor  of  Tulsa's  First  Presbyterian  Church (1900 - 1941)

Ghosts  forgotten  by  all….  

Dr. Kerr replied, 'I am only seeking justice for the least of Jesus' brothers as Scripture  demands.  This Petition to Congress in which I am asking the Session to join with me  in submitting  does not concern any issue of partisan politics.  The Petition is only concerned with obtaining substantive justice for our aggrieved brothers in  Greenwood.'  

At this point,  Dr. Kerr  thought it best to resign from his Pastorate and to leave Tulsa for a new church  in  the  North.  He was still in his mid- forties,  he had a solid twenty-one year record of accomplishment in Tulsa,  and he could easily have found a nice Northern Pastorate in some civilised  Northern  City.  Dr. Kerr  felt that it might be better for an entirely new man to take over as Pastor who would not be burdened with his controversial record of trying to assist the devastated Black people of Greenwood so racially  oppressed by the City of Tulsa.  

Therefore, thinking of the future well-being of the First Presbyterian Church and the University of Tulsa,  both  of which he had built up during  his twenty-one years of Christian   Service in Tulsa,  in a very dignified manner Dr. Kerr offered his resignation to another private meeting of the Session  of  Presiding  Elders:  

He told the Elders that given the continuing controversy over his actions at the Courthouse and the internal disagreement within the Congregation towards his assistance to the Greenwood refugees … that in the interests of congregational unity he felt that Tulsa's First Presbyterian Church would be better off without him …and that he would start immediately looking for a new pastorate in the North.  His formal resignation would be submitted  to the Session  as soon as a new pastorate had been located….