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City completes preliminary search for more 1921 Race Massacre graves

Crews utilize heavy equipment to conduct a "test excavation" at Oaklawn Cemetery to search for possible grave sites of 1921 Race Massacre victims.
Ben Abrams
/
KWGS News
Crews utilize heavy equipment to conduct a "test excavation" at Oaklawn Cemetery to search for possible grave sites of 1921 Race Massacre victims.

The city says it completed a "test excavation" on Thursday for more possible remains of people killed in the 1921 Race Massacre.

Originally scheduled for both Thursday and Friday, crews used heavy equipment in Oaklawn Cemetery near downtown Tulsa, where bodies of massacre victims could possibly be buried.

According to a statement Thursday, experts "stayed late in the evening" to avoid excessive heat during the day. A report on the results will be released "in the weeks ahead."

The city officially began looking for remains in 2018. This latest effort is preliminary to see if further excavations are warranted at the site.

On Thursday, the city posted an update to their '1921 Graves' Facebook page featuring Kary Stackelbeck, Oklahoma's state archaeologist. Stackelbeck said the current excavation is building on previous work.

"We did actually identify a relatively large geophysical anomaly with the ground-penetrating radar, measures approximately 4x6 meters. But in order to get a better sense of that, we wanted to take an intermediate step and just do some very basic test excavations," said Stackelbeck.

The test excavation comes on the heels of a Tulsa County judge dismissing a case last week from the few remaining massacre survivors seeking compensation from the state and city for participating in the killings.

As many as 300 Black Tulsans died when white rioters attacked Black Wall Street.

Ben Abrams is a news reporter and All Things Considered host for KWGS.
Check out all of Ben's links and contact info here.