BY ARNOLD HAMILTON
You could almost feel a collective hold-your-breath-moment developing in the Oklahoma House today.
A resolution marking NAACP Day – and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – had just been read by the House clerk. All that was left was for lawmakers to give their endorsement – more often than not, a mere formality.
But given the recent dust-up over the Rev. Scott Jones’ pre-prayer acknowledgement of his “loving partner and fiancé, Michael,” nothing seems as automatic as it once was.
The drama also was heightened because one of the House’s four African-American members was absent – Republican Rep. T.W. Shannon of Lawton.
Rep. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, opened the brief festivities by inviting members of the Black Caucus to join her at the House’s ceremonial front podium. Tulsa’s Jabar Shumate and OKC’s Mike Shelton, both Democrats, moved into position, joining Pittman, the NAACP’s state president Anthony Douglas and an NAACP regional representative, the Rev. Charles W. White Jr.
Shannon had been on the House floor much of the morning. His desk was now empty.
Fortunately, the resolution was adopted without incident – Democrats and Republicans alike standing, applauding the venerable civil rights organization.
It’s too bad Shannon missed the moment.