Mayor G. T. Bynum and the 1921 Race Massacre Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee held their first public meeting tonight outlining the process for the 1921 Race Massacre Graves search from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The Committee also scheduled its next meeting for Thurs., July 18, 5:30 p.m. at Rudisill Regional Library, 1520 N. Hartford Ave.
Last year, Mayor Bynum announced the City of Tulsa would reexamine the potential of 1921 Race Massacre Graves at three sites that were identified in the 2001 State commissioned report, including: Oaklawn Cemetery, Newblock Park and Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens, formerly Booker T. Washington Cemetery. The City has established three goals around the reexamination, including: public oversight, historical context and the physical evidence investigation.
For the upcoming meeting in July, the Committee will discuss the logistics for the first phase of the physical evidence investigation, which will be led by the State of Oklahoma Archaeological Survey using ground penetrating radar. 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.
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 Public Oversight Committee is seeking feedback regarding the process of the investigation and what the community would like to accomplish from the investigation. The feedback form will close on July 8 and the form can be found online.
About the 1921 Race Massacre Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee
The Public Oversight Committee is in place to ensure transparency and community engagement throughout the 1921 Race Massacre Graves investigation. The Committee serves in an advisory capacity to the City for the investigation and is comprised of descendants of the Tulsa Race Massacre and leaders in Tulsa’s African-American community.