Efforts have been made to identify the victims of Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 in Oaklawn. One of the forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield discovered that one of three sets of remains exhumed last week included a victim with a gunshot wound.
A press release issued Friday evening, says that “no definitive information on race or potential relation” to the massacre has been established.
It has been told that during lab work, a bullet core was removed from the victim’s skull. At this time, experts believe the victim to be an adult male, though no definitive information on race or potential relation to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre can be confirmed at this time.
The general profile, including burial in a plain wood casket, fits information gleaned from old funeral home records and newspaper reports about 18 Black massacre victims buried in Oaklawn.
The gunshot victim was buried in a plain casket in the Original 18 Potter’s Field area and this is the second gunshot victim found in the search for potential victims from the massacre. The first gunshot victim was found during last year’s excavation.
The remains are one of four sets exhumed from 26 burials uncovered in Oaklawn since the current phase of the graves project began on Oct 26.
DNA analysis of the first gunshot victim continues in Utah with International Forensics and no definitive information about potential relation of victim to the Tulsa Race Massacre can be confirmed at this time.
The area being excavated is in the southwest corner of Oaklawn Cemetery was originally known as a Black potter’s field.
Many and perhaps most of those buried there are thought not to have been connected to the massacre. Few of the graves in that section of the cemetery still have markers, and many have never been properly marked.
Oaklawn Cemetery is one of four sites identified for the investigation. Others include Newblock Park, another area near Newblock Park and Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens.
The investigation’s first phase involved the use of ground penetrating radar, which found evidence of “anomalies” at two areas of Oaklawn Cemetery, including the Original 18 site.
Descendants of the Tulsa Race Massacre and leaders in Tulsa’s African American community are serving as part of a public oversight committee set up to serve in an advisory capacity during the investigation. Work is expected to continue for at least another week, depending upon weather conditions.
Mayor G.T. Bynum said, “As we open this investigation 101 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.”