An open area at Oaklawn Cemetery has been searched before for mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and will be looked at again. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file

The first public meeting to discuss plans to begin the investigative process into the search for mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has been rescheduled to late June.

Severe weather pushed the original May date back, the city of Tulsa announced Monday.

Mayor G.T. Bynum and the Mass Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee will hold the meeting at 5:30 p.m. June 27 at the 36th Street Event Center, 1125 E. 36th St. North.

“The only way to move forward in our work to bring about reconciliation in Tulsa is by seeking the truth honestly,” Bynum said in the release. “As we open this investigation 98 years later, there are both unknowns and truths to uncover. But we are committed to exploring what happened in 1921 through a collective and transparent process — filling gaps in our city’s history, and providing healing and justice to our community.”

The city of Tulsa announced last year it would reexamine possible mass graves at Oaklawn Cemetery, Newblock Park and Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens, formerly Booker T. Washington Cemetery.

The Oklahoma Archaeological Survey plans to search the sites using ground-penetrating radar, according to the release. Once the radar process is complete, the team will present their findings to the city of Tulsa and Public Oversight Committee following their investigation, and the city and committee will determine whether the second phase of the investigation will move forward.

The second phase could include excavation and bringing in the state Medical Examiner’s Office to determine cause of death.

If mass graves are present and can be directly associated with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the city and committee will determine the next steps as it relates to storing remains, DNA testing and genealogical research, and commemorating the grave sites and honoring the remains, the release states.

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Kelsy Schlotthauer



Twitter: @K_Schlott 

Kelsy graduated with a journalism degree from Oklahoma State University in 2018 and moved to Colorado to cover breaking news before The World called her home in 2019. Follow her on Twitter for real-time reports. Phone: (918) 581-8455

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