“The only way to move forward in our work to bring about reconciliation in Tulsa is by seeking the truth honestly. As we open this investigation 99 years later, there are both unknowns and truths to uncover. But we are committed to exploring what happened in 1921 through a collective and transparent process - filling gaps in our city’s history, and providing healing and justice to our community."
– Mayor G.T. Bynum
How You Can Help the 1921 Graves Investigation
If you have family stories, have taken a DNA test or would like to take one, or have a digital or written family tree, Intermountain Forensics would love to hear from you. Please visit the 1921 DNA website and fill out the online form. If you need assistance to complete the form, please visit any one of the Tulsa City-County Library locations.
For more information, visit www.tulsa1921dna.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Oversight Committee - June 21
Tuesday, June 21, the Public Oversight Committee for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation met virtually with technical experts to discuss the DNA analysis work and discuss next steps in the investigation. Presentation | Press Release
Public Oversight Committee - March 1
Tuesday, March 1, 2022, the Public Oversight Committee for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation met virtually to hear the findings from the summer 2021 excavation work at Oaklawn Cemetery, learn more about the team selected to conduct the DNA analysis for that work, and discuss next steps in the investigation.
Read the Report:
"Archaeological and Forensic Research in Support of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation: The 2020-2021 Field Seasons at Oaklawn Cemetery" Volume I | Volume II
View the Presentation | Read the full Press Release
You can view past presentations and Public Oversight Committee meeting videos online.
In 2018, Mayor G.T. Bynum announced the City of Tulsa would reexamine the potential of graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre as identified in the 2001 State commissioned report. Four sites were identified in the City’s examination: Oaklawn Cemetery, Newblock Park, an additional area near Newblock Park, and Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens, formerly Booker T. Washington Cemetery. The City established three goals around the reexamination, including: public oversight, historical context and the physical evidence investigation.
A Public Oversight Committee was established to ensure transparency and community engagement throughout the investigation. The Committee serves in an advisory capacity to the City during key decisions throughout the investigation. The Oversight Committee is comprised of descendants of the Tulsa Race Massacre and leaders in Tulsa’s African-American community. A team of historians and scholars were also assembled to provide historical context for the work being accomplished and document the significance of this important work.
The physical evidence investigation was organized into two phases. The first phase was led by the State of Oklahoma Archaeological Survey through the use of ground penetrating radar, which has been used at Oaklawn Cemetery and Newblock Park. Radar showed stronger evidence of anomalies at two areas of Oaklawn Cemetery, specifically the Sexton area and the Original 18 site.
After no evidence of human remains were found in the City’s first test excavation in the Sexton area at Oaklawn Cemetery in July 2020, at least 12 coffins were found in the Original 18 site in October 2020, which is located adjacent to two 1921 Race Massacre headstones in the historical African American section of the Potters Field.
Since the discovery of those remains, the City has met extensively with the Public Oversight Committee to determine next steps. On June 1, 2021, the City and its partners at the University of Oklahoma will start the exhumation process, which could take several weeks to several months.
If the City finds mass graves that can be directly associated with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the City of Tulsa with the help of the Public Oversight Committee, must determine next steps as it relates to storing remains, DNA testing and genealogical research, and commemorating the gravesites and honoring the remains.
Media Share: Photos & Video
No courtesy is needed when using pictures, video and drone footage, from the test excavations at Oaklawn Cemetery.
Oaklawn Cemetery: Sexton Test Excavation
Oaklawn Cemetery: Original 18 and Clyde Eddy Test Excavation
Oaklawn Cemetery: Original 18
Rolling Oaks Cemetery (Booker T. Washington Cemetery)
Oaklawn Cemetery: Reburial