When Air Force veteran and young OKC legislator G. T. Blankenship, fearing for his very life, rose from the scorned back benches of the corrupted Oklahoma House of Reps and delivered one of the most thunderous speeches in state history, it unleashed the whirlwind that brought down corrupt state Supreme Court justices, civic luminaries, and legislative leaders alike.
Join John and KTOK/iHeartRadio star Gwin Faulconer-Lippert for what President John F. Kennedy would have considered a “Profile in Courage.”
It’s the 53st episode of our weekly OKLAHOMA GOLD! radio program and podcast. Go HERE to listen to them all! Future episodes explore more great heroes, events, and movements of Oklahoma History.
Air Force veteran and young state legislator G. T. Blankenship of Oklahoma City, fearing for his very life, stood up from the back benches of the corrupted Oklahoma House of Representatives on the opening morning of its 1965 session and challenged the leaders of the state—and the state itself—to clean out the moral sewage polluting their most exalted institutions. Courtesy Oklahoma Publishing Co. and Oklahoma Historical Society.
The stalwart character and competence of Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice and World War II hero William A. Berry spurred another judge to deliver him the explosive courtroom transcript, which he nervously shared with courageous young Oklahoma City legislator G. T. Blankenship, that detonated perhaps the greatest judicial corruption case in American history. Courtesy Oklahoma Publishing Co. and Oklahoma Historical Society.
Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice candidate William A. Berry received this never-published cartoon from the Watonga Republican newspaper publisher during his 1958 election campaign. It ominously suggested that higher, unseen forces were manipulating the decisions of the majority of the state’s justices like puppets on a string.
A Daily Oklahoman writer eloquently described the scene: “A tense and solemn crowd watched in state senate chambers as the dramatic roll call vote was cast. A packed gallery looks down upon senators waiting in turn to vote, while court officials record the votes at the head table. Justice (N. B.) Johnson can be seen seated at small table at front left, watching as his attorneys keep tally on the votes. It was the state's first impeachment trial in 36 years and Johnson the first state supreme court justice to be removed by impeachment….Stunned and silent, Johnson met with the dignity of his Indian ancestors Friday the decision ending a career of more than 35 years as a public official.” The valiant speech of young Oklahoma legislator G. T. Blankenship led to this historic day, and several others through the mid and late-1960s. Photo Austin Traverse. Courtesy Oklahoma Publishing Co. and Oklahoma Historical Society.
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