Scientists are calling for people who think they may be descendants of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. As of July 13, it’s now accessible to send DNA to help scientists create a database to identify the remains of those unidentified.
Per the Associated Press, Danny Hellwig, the laboratory director of Intermountain Forensics, told the outlet that there was a surprising outpour of people asking about how to give their DNA after the initial announcement. The sheer amount of support caused them to launch into accepting submissions from locals wanting to help bring closure.
“That’s what prompted this,” Hellwig explained. “We didn’t expect the amount of support and willingness to help… people have jumped out of the woodwork.”
Notably, people who suspect they had a family lineage that lived in Tulsa in the early 90s are encouraged to enter submissions. Hellwig told AP that it could cut down on time it’ll take to make identifications. “What we need is to populate these databases with family lines. If we’re only matched with distant relatives, it can take much longer.”
Direct descendants would provide closer matches to remains. The Intermountain Forensics director said that it could turn years into days.
The Salt Lake City Foundation is reportedly examining 14 remains right now and has at least two with enough viable DNA to test and compare to those who send their genetic makeup in.
AP wrote if you’re interested, “People can provide their information from genealogy sites such as ancestry.com and 23andme.com and upload it to www.tulsa1921dna.org” whenever they begin their testing. Hellwig added that everyone has the option to “prohibit their information from being shared with other agencies and can remove their info at any time.”
The Tulsa Race Massacre was an attack on the prominent Black community of Greenwood in 1921. Tulsa was known to have an extensive business district and culturally enriched area commonly known as the Black Wall Street, as told by tulsahistory.org.
It began with a Black man being wrongfully accused of wrongdoing on the part of a white woman – which spurred the city’s white community to stir armed mobs to come after the Black man. In the early morning following the initial confrontations, white rioters looted and burned the prospering city of Greenwood.
“Twenty-four hours after the violence erupted, it ceased. In the wake of the violence, 35 city blocks lay in charred ruins, more than 800 people were treated for injuries, and contemporary reports of deaths began at 36. Historians now believe as many as 300 people may have died.”