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Researchers Plan New Excavations At Oaklawn Cemetery In Search For Race Massacre Victims

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Courtesy City of Tulsa
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A team excavates a site in Tulsa's Oaklawn Cemetery during a July dig that did not turn up human remains in a search for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

After an initial excavation in July yielded no human remains, researchers searching for mass graves of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims have announced they plan to begin digging elsewhere in Oaklawn Cemetery as soon as next month.

"The date for this work has yet to be scheduled, but the City of Tulsa will announce the date when confirmed," according to a statement from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee.

At a virtual meeting of the committee Monday, historian and committee member Scott Ellsworth said there is no doubt remains of victims lie in unmarked sections of Oaklawn.

"It is the one site in town that I can say with 100% confidence that we know that African American massacre victims were buried in Oaklawn Cemetery," Ellsworth said, citing historical records uncovered in recent decades.

"The family members were not allowed to say any goodbyes. There were no prayers that were said over these people. They were literally thrown away," Ellsworth said. "Well, we can't bring those goodbyes back. That's too late for that. But I do think that we need to push on, and if we are fortunate enough to find their remains, we can then, once again, bury them with the dignity which they deserve."

"Following geophysical work in Oaklawn Cemetery, the Committee has agreed to move forward with core sampling in an anomaly on the south side of the cemetery near 11th Street known as the Clyde Eddy site and conduct a test excavation of an anomaly in the southwest portion of the cemetery known as the Original Eighteen site," the committee's statement reads.
 

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