Movement for New Tulsa Flag at an Impasse

Jul 13, 2017

According to Tulsa Flag, the blue field symbolizes the Arkansas River, the beige field symbolizes Tulsa's warmth and community, the horizontal line represents the discovery of oil —"black gold" — in 1901, the gold Native American shield represents tribes' settlement of the area and is a nod to the state flag, the red circle represents the blood shed during the 1921 race riot, and the beige star is a nod to Art Deco architecture and stands for the city's bright future.
Credit Tulsa Flag

City councilors have balked at a vote to adopt the winner of a citizen-led campaign to adopt a new Tulsa flag.

After surveys, design solicitations and an expert panel, the one with blue and beige fields above and below a gold Native American shield with a red circle and beige star in its center got more than half the 8,000 votes on the three finalists.

Leaders of the Tulsa Flag campaign met with city councilors Wednesday afternoon after announcing the winning design that morning. Jacob Johnson told councilors the campaign will put the new flag out there regardless, which seemed to surprise Councilor Connie Dodson and some others.

"I think this is exactly the process that we told you: We would bring and we would announce the flag and we would ask you as a council to consider it to be voted on," Johnson said.

"I don't remember anybody ever saying, 'But, we're going to move forward regardless of whether or not we have an official vote to change the official flag,'" Dodson said.

Dodson wants constituent feedback at her next district meeting in September before moving forward. Several councilors said they want more time for feedback and that there should have been a way to vote for not changing the current flag.

Councilor Anna America attempted a compromise.

"Rather than saying, 'I'm not ready to go and say — and I would not support — adopting a new flag now,' but maybe we come back with three options and this is one of them," America said. "And, in my opinion, one of them needs to be — and I know everybody doesn't agree with this — but needs to be the current flag. We need to let citizens someway say, 'I like that better.'"

Councilor Blake Ewing complimented the Tulsa Flag campaign's process and said the outcome is clear to him.

"At this point, I believe the ship has sailed, that's going to be the new flag whether we vote to make it formal or not," Ewing said. "And we get to choose if we are singing in concert with the community or if we are going to let some subsequent council down the line do the work of making it official."

No council action on adopting a new flag is currently scheduled.

Merchandise featuring the new flag is already available online. Unlike the current city flag, the city seal in the center of a white background, the Tulsa Flag winning design is under public domain and may be used for any purpose.