TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – It’s been 99 years since one of the darkest moments in state history.
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 under the rug and ignore,” U.S. Senator James Lankford said.
Search for victims
As the 100th-anniversary approaches, community leaders have pushed for justice for the dead.
Last year, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum proposed using $100,000 from the city’s budget to search for the mass graves of the victims.
Months ago, Bynum said crews would search Oaklawn Cemetery, Newblock Park, The Canes, 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 Bynum told KJRH.
In October, scientists and forensic archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar to search for anything unusual in the cemeteries. Archaeological experts say a few anomalies were found that might indicate they are the sites of mass graves.
The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission is hosting two events to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the massacre.
Beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 31, the commission will be joined by state and city leaders to provide personal reflections about the tragedy and the upcoming centennial.
At 10:30 p.m. on May 31, to coincide with the first shots being fired in 1921, the commission will host a private candelight vigil to honor the memory of those killed.