The skull of a Black man with bullet wounds has been discovered in an unmarked mass grave at the Tulsa Race Massacre site


Oklahoma state archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck examines the excavation of Oaklawn Cemetery

Oklahoma state archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck examines the excavation of Oaklawn Cemetery Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press

  • Scientists discovered 35 coffins at an unmarked mass grave near the Tulsa Race Massacre site.

  • Officials found the remains of one man who still had a bullet lodged in his left shoulder area.

  • Historians believe that as many as 300 people were killed during the Tulsa Race Massacre

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Scientists and archaeologists who are investigating a mass grave near the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre have found skeletal remains, including the skull of a Black man with gunshot wounds to his head and shoulders.

The remains were found in October when officials were excavating the Black section of Oaklawn Cemetery as part of a search for mass graves that may be connected to the 1921 massacre where a white supremacist mob attacked the affluent Black community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Officials said that 35 coffins were discovered in the unmarked mass grave. The remains of 19 people were taken to a science lab and examinations have been completed on nine of those human remains.

« Five of those nine were juveniles, » Phoebe Stubblefield, the lead forensic anthropologist working on the investigation told reporters during a news conference on Friday. « The remaining four are adults. One was an older female. The others were adults who range in age from 30s to their 40s. »

Stubblefield also told reporters that officials had unearthed the remains of a Black man who had a bullet still lodged in his left shoulder area.

« He does have associated trauma, » she said. « He has multiple projectile wounds. »

Kristi Williams, who is a member of the Tulsa Mass Graves Public Oversight Committee, told The Washington Post that her main goal is to uncover more information about the remains that have been found at the site.

She said: « Right now, the priority is to find out who these remains belong to and why were they there undocumented. »

The 1921 Tulsa massacre was one of the most deadly acts of racial violence in US history.

The exact death toll was not recorded, but historians believe that as many as 300 people were killed and 1,250 homes, businesses, and other community buildings were destroyed during the massacre, which started after Black Tulsans thwarted the lynching of Dick Rowland, a Black teenager who was accused of assaulting a white girl.

Black Tulsans who survived the massacre have recounted scenes from the night, including seeing planes flown by white pilots dropping bombs from above, and Black bodies being dropped from bridges into the Arkansas River.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden visited Tusla to mark the 100th anniversary of the massacre, and during a speech, he called for the US to « come to terms » with its history.

« For much too long the history of what took place here was told in silence, cloaked in darkness. But just because history is silent it doesn’t mean that it did not take place and, while darkness can hide much, it erases nothing, » he said.

« Some injustices are so heinous, so horrific, so grievous, they can’t be buried, no matter how hard people try. So it is here: only with truth can come healing and justice and repair. »

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