An open area in 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 anticipated first public oversight meeting regarding the city’s plans to search for mass graves related to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre will be held Thursday in north Tulsa.

The Mass Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee will discuss the process assumed by the city.

Last year, Mayor G.T. Bynum announced that Tulsa would examine three sites for possible graves: Oaklawn Cemetery, 1133 E. 11th St.; Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens, previously called Booker T. Washington Cemetery, 4300 E. 91st St.; and an area near Newblock Park, 1414 Charles Page Blvd.

Among the project’s goals, Bynum said, are to provide public oversight, historical context and physical evidence.

“I always thought if I am ever mayor and in a position to have executive authority, that I would do something about it,” he previously told the Tulsa World. “I think if there are mass graves there, the citizens of Tulsa deserve to know, and the victims and their families deserve to know it.”

Work on the project will be aided by $100,000 Bynum included in his fiscal year 2019-20 budget for Phase 1 of the plan. That phase will involve the use of ground-penetrating radar. If anomalies are found, a second phase could involve excavation.

Thursday’s meeting is expected to be followed by a town hall gathering to outline the overall process so the public will know what to expect from it.

The last time potential mass grave sites were examined was in the late 1990s and early 2000. That study was led by the Tulsa Race Riot Commission. The upcoming exploration will be led by the state Medical Examiner’s Office and will include the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey, which assisted in the initial study.

The Tulsa Race Massacre, also known as the Tulsa Race Riot, happened May 31-June 1, 1921. Dozens reportedly were killed, and thousands who lived in the 40-block Greenwood District were left homeless.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the 36th Street Event Center, 1125 E. 36th St. North.

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Kendrick Marshall



Twitter: @KD_Marshall

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