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1921 Graves Public Oversight Committee to Meet Virtually on Sept. 14

This article was archived on 11/8/2020

September 11, 2020 – The Public Oversight Committee for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation will meet virtually Mon., Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m. Experts will provide a full update from the initial test excavation in July and provide an analysis of the artifacts uncovered at the Oaklawn Cemetery site. 

Physical Investigation Committee members will also provide information on additional geophysical research conducted at the Clyde Eddy site within the Oaklawn Cemetery; as well as a discussion and prioritization of locations for further investigation that will guide the City’s efforts going forward.

Citizens can attend the virtual meeting at: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/946265005

Since the last oversight meeting, archaeological crews conducted an extensive test excavation and a number of soil core samples within the Sexton area at Oaklawn Cemetery, where an anomaly was previously discovered.

Following eight days of searching, their findings determined no evidence of human remains were present in the excavation area.

Main findings at the excavation area include mostly fill debris and artifacts, some of which date back to the 1920s. Archeologists found various bottles and other artifacts, which are helpful in dating the soil where they were found. A bullet, two pairs of shoes and an old, buried road were some of the most notable findings throughout the excavation.

Multiple sites of interest remain and are still candidates for possible graves related to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

In Oct. 2019, archeologists completed ground penetrating radar at Oaklawn Cemetery and Newblock Park. Findings strongly indicated an anomaly, consistent with a common (mass) grave, existed in the Sexton area of Oaklawn Cemetery. This was the subject area of this test excavation.

The archeological team also discovered anomalies within the potter’s field area of Oaklawn Cemetery, where oral history from Clyde Eddy pointed to the potential of mass graves of Race Massacre victims.

Results from Newblock Park indicated no anomalies consistent with mass graves were evident in the park itself, but anomalies were found to the east of Newblock Park in an area called “The Canes.” At The Canes, two anomalies were found that are believed to be consistent with potential graves in the northwestern corner of the survey area. This site remains a candidate for test excavation efforts in the future.

There has also been a large interest in Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens, formerly known as Booker T. Washington Cemetery, which is privately owned. Interest comes from multiple oral historical accounts from Race Massacre survivors and descendants. A signed contract with the property owner is in place and work to schedule ground penetrating radar is underway, pending delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


1921 Graves Search Background

For the most up-to-date information on the search for possible graves dating to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, visit: www.cityoftulsa.org/1921graves and follow 1921 Graves on Facebook, @1921Graves. A public shared drive, including pictures, video and drone footage, from the initial test excavation at Oaklawn Cemetery can be found on the 1921 Graves website. No courtesy is needed when using images and videos from that drive.