Yesterday I drove to Oaklawn cemetery to take photos. For some reason, I’ve always loved to take photos at cemeteries.
This cemetery has some notoriety. A sad one though.
Just over a year ago, about 100 years after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, they unearthed a mass grave.
It was thought to be connected to one of the worst incidents of racial terror against Black people in U.S. history.
As many as 300 African American residents were slaughtered by white mobs. A section of the city known as Black Wall Street was reduced to ash.
How This Investigative Development Came About:
In 2018, Mayor G.T. Bynum announced the City of Tulsa would reexamine the potential of graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre as identified in the 2001 State commissioned report.
Four sites were identified in the City’s examination: Oaklawn Cemetery, Newblock Park, an additional area near Newblock Park, and Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens, formerly Booker T. Washington Cemetery.
The City established three goals around the reexamination, including: public oversight, historical context and the physical evidence investigation.
Historians have tried to determine for decades where most of the victims were buried.
Scientists used ground-penetrating radar and found “anomalies” that could indicate the existence of an unmarked burial ground.
Because that was evidence of a mass grave, a team of the foremost researchers in the U.S. assembled there. They were there to assess the presence and condition of any human remains.
I just checked my archives, and it seems I wrote about the history of this riot one year ago this month.
There was a candlelight vigil on the streets of Black Wall Street. These people were there to honor the victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
According To The Tulsa World Reporter:
“While taking pictures, almost on cue, the rain fell around the time the first shots were fired 100 years ago around 10:30 p.m.
“In those moments I saw pain and remembrance as the rain seemed to fall, as the tears poured out of those in attendance.” — Michael Noble Jr., Tulsa World
But on this day, December 29, 2021, I was the only human walking the grounds.
A gaggle of geese was my only companion.
They walked in front of my car as I drove slowly along the streets of the cemetery.
Last year when I came here, there was a big hawk guarding the graves. I captured photos of the hawk as it flew from one grave to another and perched at the top.
In looking up the general habitat for geese, I read that most species prefer living in and around freshwater. There was no water nearby.
But many species of geese also inhabit public parks, farms, and pastures. Or other urban areas.
I don’t know why each time I’ve gone there I have seen large birds like the hawk and the geese.
Perhaps they are sentinels keeping watch over the graves that were disrupted.
I hope this quiet and sense of tranquility signals that the victims of the riot are now at peace after having been dug up and reburied.
(Here is what was found at the sites that were examined.)