Crews to begin removing soil on possible mass graves connected to Tulsa Race Massacre

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TULSA, Okla. (KFOR/KOKI) – Archaeological experts say they will soon begin the next step in the search for mass grave sites in connection to the 1921 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.

In preparation for the 100th-anniversary of the tragedy, Tulsa community leaders 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.

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.

Now, city leaders in Tulsa say a tentative plan is in place to break ground in April in an effort to give families some closure. In the coming weeks, crews will remove the top layer of soil in order to determine if human remains exist there.

If remains are found, experts will determine if they are connected to the race massacre. They tell FOX23 that the main goal is to collect information, but not disturb the remains.

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