Tulsa Pastor Weighs In On 1921 Mass Grave Search


Wednesday, October 3rd 2018, 5:49 pm
By: News On 6


A North Tulsa Pastor says the Mayor's plans to search for mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre are necessary to bring justice to victims and their families.

"As a pastor, I literally feel as though the blood of those who were killed, murdered on that dreadful day, still crying out because they have not received justice," said Dr. Robert Turner of Vernon Chapel A.M.E. Church.

People in North Tulsa say the new search is a step in the right direction but say that more action needs to be taken to bring justice to the families who lost loved ones in the massacre.

"This entire area was here during the massacre," said Rev. Turner.

The basement of The Vernon Chapel A.M.E. Church is the only part of the original building left after the 1921 Race Riots burned Tulsa’s Black Wall Street to the ground.

"As a pastor, that is personal for me because I have members of my church who were members of this church at the time that died. Some of them survived but several of them died and they have yet to have a funeral service," said Rev. Turner.

During a North Tulsa community meeting this week, the conversation turned to ways to economically develop the Greenwood district, but Rev Turner says we need to be focused on the unmarked graves and getting justice for the victims who have never been found.

"It is not just an opportunity for somebody to make some money. This is a blood land," said Rev. Turner.

Mayor G.T. Bynum says he first heard about the possibility of the mass graves from the riots when he was a city councilor but says didn't have the power to start an investigation until he became Mayor.

"From my standpoint, this is a murder investigation and whether you were murdered in 2018 or 1921, the city has a compact with you that we will do everything we can to find out what happened to you," said Mayor Bynum.

Bynum met with archeologists who have listed three sites where mass graves could be; Newblock Park, Booker T Washington Cemetery, and Oaklawn Cemetery.

10/02/2018 Related Story: Tulsa Mayor Calls For Investigation Into Possible Mass Graves From Race Riot

'We are going to do what we can to find out what happened to them and we are going to have compassion for their family and at a most basic human level that is what this is about," said Mayor Bynum. "There is still this fog of history where we don't know everything that happened, and that, I think, still in today's day in age, continues to hinder our ability to make the progress that we need to make around racial reconciliation in Tulsa."