Tulsa To Search For Mass Graves In 1921 Race Massacre

Thursday, May 9th 2019, 11:53 pm
By: Emory Bryan

A new city commission will guide the search for mass graves from the Tulsa Race Massacre.  The search - with radar scans of the ground - could start this summer.

There are no plans, yet, to do any excavation. There were reports after the massacre of unmarked graves at Oaklawn Cemetery, and a scan of the soil  20 years ago showed some features that might be a trench in what otherwise appears to be undisturbed section of land.

"But then nothing was ever done beyond that to excavate," said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum. "The city was concerned at the time with existing graves being disrupted, marked graves being disrupted. We do not have that concern in 2019.

"We are fortunate in 2019 that the technology in this field has advanced dramatically."

Related Story: Tulsa Mayor Calls For Investigation Into Possible Mass Graves From Race Riot 

State archaeologists are preparing to run a new scan. The other locations that will be searched are Newblock Park, in west Tulsa, and the former Booker T. Washington Cemetery near 91st and Yale.

If they find something, the oversight committee and the mayor will decide what to do next.

""As someone who loves this city, it was just unimaginable that in a city in the United States of America people could potentially be living around a mass grave and not be trying to find out if it truly was there or not," Bynum said.

The oversight commission meets in two weeks to go over plans for an investigation. It will be a public meeting at the 36th Street North Events Center on May 23.

Then there will be a town hall for public input.