Crews start excavating possible Tulsa Race Massacre victims

Tulsa Race Massacre

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Workers have begun excavating remains of possible Tulsa Race Massacre victims.

Searchers so far have found 27 bodies in a Tulsa cemetery.

Oklahoma State Archaeologist, Kary Stackelbeck said Tuesday that excavation of four bodies is beginning.

Forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield said a skeletal analysis of the remains will likely begin Wednesday in an effort to determine if the remains are victims of the massacre.

Stackelbeck also said the number of remains found now stands at 27, up from 20 discovered as of last week in Oaklawn Cemetery.

The 1921 massacre occurred when a white mob descended on the Black section of Tulsa. Historians estimate as many as 300 people died.

The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma was once called the “Black Wall Street,” a 35-block radius in the segregated community that was thriving with hundreds of businesses.

3rd June 1921: injured and wounded men are being taken to hospital by National guardsmen after racially motivated riots, also known as the "Tulsa Race Massacre", during which a mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, US. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
3rd June 1921: injured and wounded men are being taken to hospital by National guardsmen after racially motivated riots, also known as the “Tulsa Race Massacre”, during which a mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, US. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

But, on May 31 through June 1, 1921, the entire area was burned down as a white mob attacked the community after a Black man was accused of assaulting a white woman.

White residents burned down homes and businesses, 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.

Tulsa Race Massacre photo courtesy of OSU-Tulsa
‘Worst disaster in Oklahoma history’ how the Oklahoma City bombing shined a light on the Tulsa Race Massacre (Photo: OSU-Tulsa)

Although the Tulsa Race Massacre occurred 100 years ago, the community never fully recovered.

Businesses were never able to rebuild, and innocent families were not compensated for the losses caused by the mob.

Oaklawn Cemetery will serve as the temporary re-interment site and the Public Oversight Committee will make recommendations for a permanent burial and memorial location for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims identified through this process.

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