July 18, 2018 – Mayor G. T. Bynum and the 1921 Race Massacre Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee met tonight for the second time as the Physical Evidence Investigation Committee provided a detailed overview of the proposed investigation process to identify graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
Shortly after the City of Tulsa announced the investigation would be reopened, the City established three goals around the reexamination, including: public oversight, historical context and the physical evidence investigation.
The physical evidence investigation will be led by the State of Oklahoma Archaeological Survey based at the University of Oklahoma, which will use ground penetrating radar at three sites in Tulsa, including: Oaklawn Cemetery, Newblock Park and Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens, formerly Booker T. Washington Cemetery. The team is expected to start their work this fall.
Once the radar process is complete, the Survey team will present their findings to the City of Tulsa and Public Oversight Committee following their investigation and discuss next steps in the investigative process.
If anomalies are detected by the ground penetrating radar, the City of Tulsa, with the help of the Public Oversight Committee, will determine if the second phase of the investigation will continue, which could include seeking assistance from the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner with excavation and cause of death determination. The cause of death determination would be an important step to the investigation as remains will be close to 100 years old and a Spanish Influenza outbreak occurred in Tulsa in 1919 prior to the Race Massacre in 1921
The next 1921 Graves Public Oversight Committee Meeting will be held on Thurs., Aug. 22, 5:30 p.m. at Rudisill Regional Library, 1520 N. Hartford Ave. to identify key decision points in the physical investigation process and establish ground rules for reaching decisions as a committee. The historical context aspect will also be discussed.
Oral history and stories from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre have been passed down from generation to generation. If you have information or a story to share that will help with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves investigation, visit: www.cityoftulsa.org/1921graves
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