With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Tulsa plans to dig for suspected mass graves from a 1921 race massacre

Nearly a century after a race massacre left as many as 300 people dead, the city plans to dig for suspected mass graves that may have been used to dispose of African American bodies.

Archaeologists searching for mass graves connected to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre agreed Monday night that Tulsa will conduct “limited excavations” in a city-owned cemetery to determine whether a “large anomaly” detected by ground-penetrating radar contains human remains.

“We do not propose to exhume any human remains during this phase of the investigation,” the committee of archaeologists and forensic anthropologists said. “However, any human remains that are uncovered during the excavation will be treated respectfully and with reverence.”

The excavation is set to begin in April.

The decision comes two months after a team of forensic archaeologists, led by the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey at the University of Oklahoma, revealed that they had found “possible common graves” at two sites in Tulsa. They identified the sites as the Canes, located on a bluff along the Arkansas River near Highway 75, and the Sexton area of Oaklawn Cemetery, which is a few blocks from Greenwood, the black community that was destroyed during one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history.

Read entire article at Washington Post