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Oaklawn remains exhumed in search of Race Massacre burials to be reburied

Oaklawn remains exhumed in search of Race Massacre burials to be reburied

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The remains of 19 bodies that were exhumed from Oaklawn Cemetery in June will be reinterred during a private ceremony at 9 a.m. Friday.

City officials said Oaklawn will be closed Wednesday through Friday because of the activity.

The bodies were exhumed earlier this summer as part of the city’s search for unmarked burials from Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre. They were taken from an area near the southwest corner of the cemetery that was known as a potter’s field for African Americans in the early 20th century.

The remains were examined at an on-site laboratory by forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield, whose findings have not been made public.

Officials say that will happen during a meeting of the Public Oversight Committee appointed to supervise the search. A time, date and place for that meeting has not been announced.

According to the city, efforts to identify the remains through records and possibly DNA are ongoing.

Stubblefield said earlier that the remains appeared to include men, women and children.

The women and children were found in traditional grave shafts, while at least some of the men were located in what appeared to be a trench containing at least a dozen coffins.

This last grouping fits with a description from records and newspaper accounts of Black male victims buried in Oaklawn following the massacre.

At least one set of male remains showed signs of trauma — a bullet hole in the cranium — but that body was buried separately from the group burial, researchers said.

Investigators have been looking for additional burials, possibly in mass graves, rumored to exist since the immediate aftermath of the May 31-June 1, 1921, violence that resulted in the near-total destruction of Tulsa’s African American Greenwood District.

Sites in far south Tulsa and the vicinity of Newblock Park west of downtown have been examined by subsurface scanning equipment with no definitive results.

Many other locations have been suggested, including Crown Hill Cemetery in far north Tulsa, abandoned coal mines in northeast Tulsa and several locations around Sand Springs.

Featured video: 19 sets of remains exhumed from mass grave at Oaklawn Cemetery

Oaklawn search ends with exhumation of 19 sets of remains; at least one bears signs of violence. The mass grave was fround while searching for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.


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