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Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation Resumes

Taken from the southeast corner of the roof of Booker T. Washington High School, this panorama shows much of the damage within a day or so of the Tulsa Race Riot and the burning.
Mary E. Jones Parrish
/
Events of the Tulsa Disaster/Public Domain
Taken from the southeast corner of the roof of Booker T. Washington High School, this panorama shows much of the damage within a day or so of the Tulsa Race Riot and the burning.

A team from the City of Tulsa and the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey at the University of Oklahoma resumed the test excavation Monday for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation.

The test excavation is taking place at the Oaklawn Cemetery, the site of a possible mass grave. Earlier this year, the test excavation was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a news release, the test excavation aims to discover the presence or absence of human remains, determine the nature of the interments and obtain data to help inform the future steps in the investigation such as appropriate recovery efforts. 

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said during a press conference Monday the ultimate goal of the investigation is to connect the victims of the massacre with their families.  

"It should not have taken 99 years for us to be doing this investigation, but this generation of Tulsans is committed to doing what's right by our neighbors and of following the truth, wherever it leads us," Bynum said.

As many as 300 people were killed and nearly 9,000 people were left homeless during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history.

The team will conduct site preparations and soil removal on the first day and is expected to begin the full test excavation on Tuesday, July 14. 

The test excavation is expected to take three to six days. 

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Katelyn discovered her love for radio as a student employee at KGOU, graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and then working as a reporter and producer in 2021-22. Katelyn has completed internships at SiriusXM in New York City and at local news organizations such as The Journal Record and The Poteau Daily News. Katelyn served as president of the OU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists from 2017 to 2020. She grew up in Midland, Texas.
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