Kerr rejects Tulsa's 'Inter-Racial Committee' racialist
insistence upon recognition of "White
the Sunday after the Race War Dr. Kerr scored the continuing
unchristian refusal by the other white (downtown) Ministers of
Tulsa to work with the Black Ministers of Greenwood whom he knew
personally as friends, "There has not been enough
co-operation between the good Whites and the good Negroes. Years
ago the Negro Ministers co-operated with the White Ministers,
but little by little they [the latter] dropped out. We white
folks must return to co-operation with the good element in the
the 1921 Tulsa Race War Dr. Kerr had repeatedly
attempted to bring all the Greenwood Pastors whom he knew
into the local Tulsa Ministerial Alliance.
However, Tulsa's other white downtown ministers refused
to accept the Greenwood Ministers.
Dr. Kerr was terribly embarrassed when he had to explain
to friends pastoring the Greenwood Churches
that Tulsa's other [white] 'men of the cloth', claiming a
common gospel and Confession of Reformed Christianity, refused
to be brothers with them, particularly when the Greenwood
Pastors asked Dr. Kerr, 'What about what Jesus says?'
the top of the Courthouse steps Dr. Charles W. Kerr had, in
fact, spotted a number of Tulsa other white ministers (in
civilian clothing) from Tulsa's socially prominent downtown
churches amongst the lynch mob
... who were
to stop this attempted lynching
... who later
stormed down to the Police Station with the dispersed lynch mob
... and, in fact, were among those specially commissioned
as the 'Emergency Police Deputies' who burnt down Greenwood and
murdered Black people. Christianity
the aftermath of the Tulsa Race War a group of white ministers
and civic leaders organised an Inter-Racial Committee to work
out Tulsa's burning racial problems.
Because Dr. Kerr was the only Pastor in Tulsa who had
established personal links with the Greenwood Pastors, he was
asked to join and to bring the Greenwood Pastors along with him.
Although the Inter-Racial Committee had many excellent
goals such as ending lynching and assisting Blacks with their
problems, the Tulsa's other
downtown white ministers insisted
that the Greenwood Pastors would have to recognise White Supremacy
in government and social relationships and accept Oklahoma's
existing apartheid 'colour-bar' legislation as the basis for any
Kerr refused because he could not possibly ask the Greenwood
Pastors to join the Inter-Racial Committee as second-class
ministers under such insulting
terms which would cause them to lose credibility with their
own flocks. Dr. Kerr
counter-proposed founding this Committee on the basis of a
mutual recognition of a shared
brotherhood-in-Christ, Who alone could
overcome the terrible racial division in Tulsa and to set a good
example for all of Tulsa to overcome the City's pervasive racial
Dr. Kerr asked these prominent Tulsa ministers to biblically
justify their insistence upon white supremacy,
they cited Noah's curse upon Ham.
To which Dr. Kerr replied,
'I did not study curses in the seminary.
I did study the power and authority of Jesus Christ as
the Son of God: One drop of the Blood of Jesus shed for
our sins is sufficient to wipe out all the curses in the world. The Greenwood
Pastors are as much baptised Christians as are we:
They are also under the Blood of Jesus.
As St. Paul wrote to Philemon, the former slave Onesimus
was to be treated willingly as a brother and as a partner in
Jesus' gospel. We can do no
less in Tulsa than what St. Paul advised Philemon.'
other white clergy rejected Dr. Kerr's
proposal to join in brotherhood with the Greenwood
Dr. Kerr's counter-proposal because they saw
'inter-racial cooperation' solely in terms of arms-length
negotiations on the basis of acceptance of White Supremacy by
the Greenwood population as permanent second class citizens.
this point Dr. Kerr withdrew from Tulsa's Inter-Racial Committee
as he could not possibly ask his friends among the Greenwood
Ministry to join under such degrading conditions.
Because the Greenwood Pastors did not trust
Tulsa's other white ministers,
they refused to join the Inter-Racial Committee without
Dr. Kerr's presence as a guarantee of fairness.
in that very summer of 1921 Tulsa's other white ministers of the
prominent downtown churches were recruited into the Ku Klux Klan
by 'Kleagles', as Klan recruiting agents were known.
Before the end of that summer many of these other white
lead their own congregations into the Klan.
other prominent Tulsa white ministers became Klan chaplains
known, appropriately enough, as 'Kludds'.
Klan hoods, Tulsa's entire
Dr. Kerr, the
foreign-born Roman clergy
-- as a
man enrolled in the new Ku Klux Klan and joined with their Klan
Jesus' Cross in seething
racial and religious
anyone 'different' from
the summer of 1921 religious inter-racial cooperation became all
but impossible in Tulsa due to the attitude of Tulsa's other
prominent downtown (mainline) pastors whose feelings towards
Black people were evidenced by their membership in the Ku Klux
Klan as 'Kludds' .
private Dr. Kerr met with friends amongst the Greenwood
Pastorate in shared prayer about Tulsa's mass rejection of
Jesus' gospel teachings:
Jesus' command to pray for one's enemies, these Black
ministers and Dr. Kerr prayed together for the conversion of
Tulsans away from the all-consuming racial hatred of the Ku
Klux Klan who nightly burned Jesus' Cross on the hills around Tulsa.