A Century After a Race Massacre, Tulsa Finally Digs for Suspected Mass Graves

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tags: racism, archaeology, violence, African American history

TULSA — Nearly a century after a brutal race massacre left as many as 300 black people dead, this city plans to begin digging Monday for suspected mass graves from the violence.

A team of scientists, archaeologists and forensics anthropologists are scheduled to remove a top layer of soil gather at the city-owned Oaklawn Cemetery, where geophysical radar scans last year detected anomalies consistent with mass graves.

Although the scientists said their radar findings are promising, the only way to determine precisely what lies beneath the ground is to dig. The excavation was delayed for three months by the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes weeks after President Trump appeared in Tulsa at a campaign rally, which drew more than 6,000 people to an indoor arena where few people wore masks. Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Bruce Dart said last week that a spike in new coronavirus cases in Tulsa may be linked to Trump’s rally and the protests it generated.

But Mayor G.T. Bynum (R) decided not to postpone the work at Oaklawn a second time.

“In the past 99 years, no other agency or government entity has moved this far into an investigation that will seek truth into what happened in Tulsa in 1921,” he said. “As we resume with the test excavation, we’re taking all precautions to do so under the safest environment possible. I’m thankful for the health and well being of our partners who have diligently coordinated with our team to move forward with this work during the constraints of the pandemic and record heat we are expecting.”

Read entire article at Washington Post

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