Black Community Leaders Cautiously Optimistic After Mass Grave Found

Archaeologists and anthropologists are cautiously optimistic after the discovery of a mass grave, and some community leaders said the find is significant to Tulsa’s history and future.

Wednesday, October 21st 2020, 9:14 pm


After more than a year of researching, scanning and excavating in the search for possible mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, archaeologists and anthropologists said they found at least 11 coffins and human remains at Oaklawn Cemetery this week.

Many people in Greenwood said Wednesday’s findings give them hope and other leaders said the progress means what happened almost 100 years ago in Tulsa won’t be forgotten.

Related Story: Crews Find Human Remains From At Least 10 Individuals In Test Excavation

"Today is a significant moment in the history of our city in trying to do right by the victims of this event," said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum.

Bynum said the team of experts has a lot of work to figure out who were buried and how they died.

"I'm just filled with profound gratitude for the historians, for the community volunteers who thought to go out and do work while those survivors were still living," said Bynum.

Black community leaders, such as Rev. Dr. Robert Turner with Vernon A.M.E. Church, said they are excited about the progress.

"Excited that the decades of people in this community who have been saying that bodies were dumped in mass graves that, their stories are not being vindicated, the oral history that is being passed down," said Rev. Turner. 

Turner said the crews' efforts give the community hope toward healing from a dark part of our history.

"It gets us one step closer to actually giving them a proper burial and giving their families the opportunities to have their truth be known," said Rev. Turner.

Rev. Turner also said he has told the city and the Public Oversight Committee that his church would be honored to be a place of reflection for the remains if that's what the families would like.


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