Update: In a Facebook post on Thursday night, Former Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett criticized the efforts to redo the city’s flag. Bartlett said he felt citizens deserved the right to vote to keep the old flag, a copyrighted city seal, if they wanted.
“My take-away is that they have shown no need to change our current flag,” the former mayor wrote.
The group seeking to redo the flag announced on Thursday they had received more than 4,000 votes in the first 24 hours of voting. They said they expect to collect votes for “about two weeks” before announcing the winner.
Our original story is below
The three finalists for Tulsa’s new flag design were presented to the City Council on Wednesday, and now it’s up to the public to vote on a winner.
The finalists were selected from nearly 400 submissions that came in during a public process that started in late 2016. Last fall, organizers of the Tulsa Flag campaign asked for public input as to what themes designers should seek to illustrate. A variety of ideas were submitted, but the group settled on some specific themes to pitch to designers.
“Each design has been carefully thought out, taking into consideration events and landmarks that have shaped Tulsa into what it is today, such as the Arkansas River, the Council Oak Tree, the discovery of oil, Art Deco architecture, the (1921) Tulsa Race Riot, Native American heritage and Black Wall Street,” states a media release announcing the finalists. “Each flag also has a unique element that ties the importance of community back into the design.”
Money for the project was raised privately.
Voting began Wednesday. To vote, text A, B, or C for the corresponding design you wish to vote for to 918-376-5690. Voting will be open for two weeks.
The organizers of the Tulsa Flag campaign hope that voting by text will ensure every citizen is able to vote while limiting the votes to one per person.
Tulsa Flag organizers will then return to the City Council to present the vote tally.
When the Tulsa Flag group launched the project, it said the city’s current flag — which is just the city seal — was stale, outdated and, worst of all, copyrighted.
The result was that the flag was essentially useless. Recreating it was illegal, so unless you spent a lot of time around City Hall, you were unlikely to ever see the flag flying.
The Tulsa Flag effort will change that. Whichever design is chosen will be free to use, so it can be printed on a shirt or a bumper sticker or even — gasp — a flag that can be flown at home. Jacob Johnson, one of the brains behind the project, previously told The Frontier that a city’s flag is an important part of its brand. If no one knows what the flag looks like, or it’s so ugly that no one wants to look at it, that’s a hit to the city’s image.
Johnson told councilors Wednesday that interest in the campaign far exceeded his expectations.
“We had much more support than we ever thought we would have,” he said.
Councilor Blake Ewing urged Tulsans to look at other cities’ flags before rendering a verdict on the three city of Tulsa options presented Wednesday. In many cities, including Chicago, the city flag has become an integral part of the community’s branding effort, Ewing said.
“My sense is all three of these stack up nicely” with other city flags, Ewing said.
Councilor Anna America said her first thought at seeing the designs was to question why the city’s name had not been included.
“And then I started thinking … any flag that I can remember doesn’t say words,” America said.
The three finalists present three distinct options.
One is half gold and half sky blue, with a little black mixed in to represent the role the oil industry has played in Tulsa. The graphic in the middle of the flag is said to represent the Council Oak Tree, Art Deco architecture, the city’s Native American heritage and Black Wall Street.
The second option is colored dark blue, cream, red and gold. The graphic is a dreamcatcher, according to the Tulsa Flag campaign organizers. The star in the middle of the dreamcatcher is an “Art Deco style” design that “represents Tulsa’s future,” according to a design brief issued Wednesday, and it “shows that our city heals from past wounds and flourishes as an icon of a uniquely American city.”
The third option is colored dark blue, yellow and white, and the interlocking design represents “that all Tulsans are interwoven with our city’s history to form a pattern of strength and vibrancy,” according to the design brief. The gold bars are said to represent the themes selected by the project, while the blue background is a “nod to the state flag and the Arkansas River.”
“The center white diamond signifies safety, hope, and new beginnings,” the brief states.