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TULSA, Okla. – City leaders in Tulsa have created a committee to oversee the search for mass graves connected to the Tulsa Race Massacre.
The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma was once called the “Black Wall Street,” a 35-block radius in the segregated community thriving with hundreds of businesses.
But, on June 1, 1921, the entire area was burned down as a result of a riot that began after a black man was accused of assaulting a white woman.
White residents attacked the community, killing hundreds of black residents and injuring 800 others.
Despite it being one of the worst instances of racial violence in the United States, the massacre was mostly swept under the rug.
“For decades, Oklahoma schools did not talk about it. In fact, newspapers didn’t even print any information about the Tulsa Race Riot. It was completely ignored. It was one of those horrible events that everyone wanted to just sweep up the rug and ignore,” U.S. Senator James Lankford said.
As the 100th-anniversary approaches, community leaders have pushed for justice for the dead. Recently, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum proposed using $100,000 from the city’s budget to search for the mass graves of the victims.
Bynum says crews will search Oaklawn Cemetery, Newblock Park and Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens for possible mass graves.
“If we can identify a place where there are bodies, we have a responsibility to look into that,” Mayor G.T. Bynum told KJRH.
Searchers will use ground-penetrating radar to determine if excavation is needed.