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Historian Scott Ellsworth addresses the audience during a meeting regarding an investigation into possible burial sites related to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Rudisill Regional Library on July 18, 2019. JOEY JOHNSON/for the Tulsa World

There is a large homeless camp on the north bank of the Arkansas River where it abruptly bends south. I see many camps along the River when I walk.

They are squalid and miserable. What is even sadder is that this particular homeless camp (it is believed) is located atop a mass grave of African-American men, women and children killed during the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.

Hundreds of innocent black citizens were killed in those two days. Some estimates range as high as 500. Several such mass graves are scattered around Tulsa, most likely including a portion of Oaklawn Cemetery.

A commission is undertaking to identify each mass grave site. Some hope that the sites will be exhumed and the bodies of those savaged by racial hatred will, at long last, get a dignified burial.

I think that a proper acknowledgment of our history demands such a reckoning.

I encounter the homeless every day. I often do some small thing, as I am sure you do.

Those encounters will now be even more aching knowing that some of these fellow citizens lay their heads each night upon soil that blankets the bones of souls even more forsaken than they.


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