Oklahoma Senate Bill 937 was withdrawn from consideration on Monday, which has prompted the the Legislative Black Caucus to speak out. The bill was seeking to rename Lake Hudson for its namesake's reported ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
Wash Hudson was a prominent Tulsa attorney, state lawmaker and board member of the Grand River Dam Authority, which manages the lake.
Hudson, who died in 1964, was a founder of the Tulsa Benevolent Association in the 1920s, which established the KKK in Tulsa.
SB 937 would have changed the name of Lake Hudson to Lake Markham, after the family that operated a ferry service on the lake.
Oklahoma Black Caucus Chairman George Young (D-OKC) on Monday issued a statement calling for continued efforts in renaming the lake.
“We appreciate the early effort of Senator Bergstrom and Representative West but are disappointed at this time to see the bill pulled from consideration,” Young said. “We have an obligation to future generations to confront our history and do what is right. It is the feeling of the Black Caucus that in this case, now knowing the lake was named for a Klu Klux Klansman, appropriately confronting our history must include changing the name of Lake Hudson. It is unacceptable that a place that represents so many good things is marred with the name of a racist. Lakes and public spaces should bear the name of honorable men and women, of which Oklahoma has many.”
Last month, GRDA spokesman John Wiscaver said the agency investigated Hudson's background after being approached by the online publication The Frontier, which first reported the proposed name change.
Wiscaver said then it was "fairly clear" Hudson was involved with the KKK and the GRDA supported the bill.
“Throughout our state, there are remnants of racism etched into buildings, carved into signs and placed directly in front of our citizens,” Young said on Monday. “Beginning with Lake Hudson, I hope this legislature will join the Black Caucus as we purge these public displays of hate and build a better more beautiful Oklahoma.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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