A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Update on the Search for Victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre
Monday, September 18, 2023
TULSA, OKLAHOMA—According to an Associated Press report, the remains of one person were recently exhumed as part of the continuing investigation at Tulsa’s Oaklawn Cemetery, where researchers are looking for the remains of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Estimates suggest 75 to 300 Black people were killed in the Greenwood section of Tulsa by a white mob, which also looted and burned the business district known as Black Wall Street. “We’re trying to find people who were murdered and buried in a cemetery … without the intent of being found,” commented Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum. Researchers have concentrated their efforts in an area identified with ground-penetrating radar that appeared to have grave markers made from bricks and flower pots. Oklahoma state archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck said that the newly uncovered remains came from a grave containing a simple wooden casket as described in newspaper articles, death certificates, and funeral home records at the time of the massacre. A second burial will also be exhumed this week, Stackelbeck said. Earlier work at the cemetery located 66 sets of remains, 22 of which are undergoing forensic evaluation in an attempt to identify them. Genetic profiles have been obtained from six of these individuals to date, and connected to potential relatives in North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Alabama. To read more about the Tulsa Race Massacre, go to "A Sight Which Can Never Be Forgotten: The Tulsa Race Riot."
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