TULSA, Okla. – While much of the history around the Tulsa Race Massacre was swept under the rug for decades, a new commission is hoping to uncover eyewitness accounts of what happened during one of the worst riots in the country’s history.
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.
After the 100th-anniversary of the tragedy, 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.
Now, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission is seeking oral histories of the event.
Organizers say they are particularly searching for stories from white families whose ancestors participated in or observed the destruction of the Greenwood District.
“The Centennial Commission is committed to telling the full story, including the accounts of those who actively engaged in acts of destruction and criminality. Multiple perspectives and insights ultimately help us evaluate and understand what transpired and why,” the commission said.
Those who have stories should call the commission’s hotline at (918) 596-1024.