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Experts Find Human Remains While Searching for Victims of the 1921 Black Wall Street Massacre

An Oklahoma state archaeologist announced Wednesday that a forensic team in Tulsa has found 11 coffins at a cemetery where experts are searching for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

State archaeologist, Kary Stackelback, said the discovered remains will not be moved until they can be properly exhumed to avoid any deterioration. Stackelback said the discovery “constitutes a mass grave.”

The coffins were unearthed in an area of the city’s Oaklawn Cemetery. Records and research led archaeologists to believe that as many as 18 victims would be found in the location.  

“We have a high degree of confidence that this is one of the locations we were looking for,” Stackelback said. “But we have to remain cautious because we have not done anything to expose the human remains beyond those that have been encountered.”

According to Stackelbeck, the upper layers of the site were surveyed with ground-penetrating radar and removed with machinery.  The excavation revealed 10 coffins buried in the same pit and an 11th nearby.

Mayor G.T. Bynum has said that the excavation was a matter of conscience and reconciliation for the city and that it should do everything it can to find the victims.

“Today is a significant moment in the history of our city in trying to do right by the victims of this event,” Mr. Bynum said at a news conference on Wednesday.

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