Centennial Commemoration Puts Tulsa Race Massacre In Spotlight: ‘Nothing Short Of Powerful’

Tuesday, June 1st 2021, 9:20 pm


President Joe Biden’s visit to Greenwood was the last of many events held to commemorate the centennial of the Race Massacre.

From candlelight vigils, to the beginning of exhuming a mass grave, and a presidential visit, Tulsans said this horrific act of violence is getting the attention it has so long deserved.

The centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre is especially meaningful for Monica Bailey. She recently learned her great uncle T.J. Elliott owned Elliott clothing, which was a thriving business on Black Wall Street next to Dreamland Theatre, destroyed 100 years ago.

"It's been a phenomenal and moving weekend, especially finding a marker on the sidewalk for his business,” Bailey said. 

Bailey is reading a book written by Scott Ellsworth about the search for possible mass graves from the massacre and wanted to come and see the search for herself, on the first day of crews beginning the excavation at Oaklawn Cemetery. 

She said the centennial weekend has been nothing short of powerful.

"I believe TJ and Grandfather Ned would be incredibly proud," Bailey said.

President Joe Biden acknowledged the search and took a moment of silence for the lives lost in 1921.

“As we speak, the process of exhuming the unmarked graves has started," President Biden said.

On Tuesday, crews began to better define the boundaries of the mass grave they discovered last year, with the goal, of matching DNA to find out who was buried there.

"The commitment is to those victims and those families," said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum.

All throughout last week up to Tuesday, events have honored the centennial. Vigils marked the moments of the massacre's start.

It was a dark day in Tulsa's history, but one that many hope is never forgotten about again.

“Just because history is silent, doesn't mean it does not take place," President Biden said.

The mass graves excavation is set to happen every day this week from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Oaklawn Cemetery and should continue for several weeks.


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