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

Keith Gaddie: Dissecting Oklahoma Politics

Oklahoma is one of the reddest states in the nation. What gives rise to that conservative culture, and where is the state headed politically? University of Oklahoma Professor Keith Gaddie offers insights.

Debbie Aldridge: Running a Prison for Women

Debbie Aldridge worked for more than 20 years at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Now she runs Oklahoma’s largest prison for women, the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud.

Credit: Ilea Shutler / Oklahoma Watch

Barry Switzer: Overcoming Personal Trauma

Former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer reflects on the trauma and family turmoil he experienced as a young man.

Bob Blackburn: Oklahoma’s Rural-Urban Divide

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

Nicole Washington: A Refuge for the Mentally Ill

Dr. Nicole Washington, the main psychiatrist at Family and Children’s Services in Tulsa, discusses the types of low-income clients she sees, the persistent problem of stigma, and mental illness in low-income neighborhoods.

Rick Bayless: Our Relationship with Food

Renowned chef and entrepreneur Rick Bayless grew up in Oklahoma City. He talks about the obesity epidemic in his home state and people’s unhealthy relationship with food. And “I am a huge believer in ‘all food is good food.’”

Greg Burns: The Artist Undeterred

Born with a severe joint disorder, Greg Burns built a successful career and life as an artist by learning to paint holding a brush in his mouth. He considers himself lucky and says communities still do not fully embrace the disabled.

Kelli O’Hara: The Importance of Arts in Schools

Broadway star and Oklahoma native Kelli O’Hara talks about how exposure to the arts makes a difference in people’s lives and how she has had to deal with assumptions about artistic ability because she’s from Oklahoma.

Aspasia Carlson: Transforming Troubled Schools

Named as principal of the year, Aspasia Carlson talks about her efforts to turn around Oklahoma City’s John Marshall Mid-High School, which had a history of difficulties dating back to the era of busing.

Michael Brooks-Jimenez: In Defense of Latino Immigrants

The Oklahoma City attorney, who represents many immigrants in federal and state courts, talks about how Latino immigrants and culture benefit the state.

Cal Hobson: A Quest for Recovery

Former state Senate President Pro Tem Cal Hobson talks about his struggle with alcoholism and his efforts to regain control of his life through drug court.

Cynthia Armstrong: On Behalf of Animals

The Oklahoma director of the Humane Society of the United States talks about how she became an animal welfare advocate, the state’s biggest issues with animal maltreatment, and what laws need to change or be approved.

Imam Imad Enchassi: Muslims in the Bible Belt

Imam Imad Enchassi grew up in Palestinian refugee camps in war-torn Lebanon and ended up in the heart of the Bible Belt. He talks about Muslims in Oklahoma, his boyhood memories of a nun, and the good will that arose out of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Rita Aragon: Accepting Veterans

Major General (retired) Rita Aragon, the governor’s liaison for veterans affairs, talks about her career as a woman with commanding rank in a male-dominated world and about the talents, values and needs of veterans.

Albert Ashwood: When the Unthinkable Happens

Albert Ashwood is closing in on his 20th year as director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. He talks about what it takes to do the job and his view on what Oklahoma needs most to prepare for disasters.

Elise Hall and Emily Virgin: Women in the Legislature

Reps. Elise Hall and Emily Virgin talk about why there are relatively few women in the Legislature and their experiences as lawmakers among colleagues and members of the public.”

Steve Green: The Bible and the State

Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, is the driving force behind the Museum of the Bible, a 430-,000-square-foot facility scheduled to open in November in Washington, D.C. Green talks about the museum’s purpose and his view of the relationship between the Bible and the U.S. government.”

Kari Watkins: A City’s Grief Preserved

Decades from now, what will the memorial commemorating the Oklahoma City bombing mean to the city and wider public? Kari Watkins, executive director of the memorial and museum, talks about why she believes the tragedy will remain relevant for generations.

Rand Elliott: Building Community Through Architecture

Oklahoma City’s Rand Elliott talks about how he became an architect, the creative impulse, and why Oklahomans deserve communities ennobled by art.

Theodis Manning, Sr.: Taking It Back to the Streets

Theodis Manning, Sr., is a former member of a Bloods street gang set. Now he’s senior pastor of Divine Wisdom Worship Center in Midwest City and co-founder of an outreach group that works with gang members and their children.

Catherine Montgomery: Connecting Beads of Time

Since moving to Oklahoma in 1999, Catherine Montgomery has helped bring about some of the state’s more notable historical preservation projects. In this video, she discusses past preservation mistakes and future restoration opportunities.

Jabar Shumate: The Diversity Challenge

The University of Oklahoma’s vice president for community talks about his life and his approach to trying increasing racial diversity and tolerance in the university community.