Legal Requirements

Re-Interment Plan of Likely Tulsa Victims Is Delayed

TULSA–A committee overseeing the search for mass graves related to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has been delayed until later this month, when  a decision is expected  on how to reinter the remains of possible victims found last year.

The state requires a re-interment plan before the graves are exhumed.

A plan is needed by the end of March to ensure the academic experts needed to study the remains are available this year, forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield told the 1921 Race Massacre Graves Public Oversight Committee last month.

“If we put this off we may literally lose a whole year,” said Dr. Stubblefield, who is a descendant of a massacre survivor.  “It won’t be winter, or October, it’ll be this time next year, in 2022.”

The committee, though, agreed to delay a decision until its next meeting on an as yet undetermined date this month.

“We’ve waited 100 years for justice,” said committee member Chief Egunwale Amusan.   “What’s another year?”

The remains of at least 12 humans were found in  October in an area of Oaklawn Cemetery, where funeral home records indicate 18 Black men killed in the massacre had been buried.

The remains all appear to have been in coffins and were covered back up until a legally authorized exhumation could be arranged.

The massacre took place May 31 and June 1, 1921, when a white mob attacked Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, killing an estimated 300 mostly Black residents and wounding 800 more, while robbing and burning businesses, homes and churches. 

The violence has been depicted in recent HBO shows, “Watchmen” and “Lovecraft County.”

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