Bob Blackburn: Oklahoma’s Rural-Urban Divide

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Video by Mashiur Rahaman and Ilea Shutler. Produced by David Fritze.

“Conversations” is a series of video interviews with Oklahomans about subjects that relate to some of the state’s larger issues. The 2016-2017 series is sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation and is made possible by a grant from the Institute for Nonprofit News.


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To outsiders, Oklahoma may appear to be an abidingly unified red state.

But that view overlooks not only its complexity, but some serious and deepening fault lines, the most pronounced of which is the rural-urban divide. That divide plays out today in debates over a number of issues, including education, jobs, health care, social values and public investment in infrastructure.

Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, talks about the origins of rural-urban divisions and whether Oklahoma is at a turning point in dealing with rural areas’ increasing problems and isolation.

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