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Two historically segregated cemeteries joined as one after town cuts down fence dividing them

The Cedars Memorial Garden in Mineola, Texas, had a "White side" and a "Black side" for burials. After a several-year battle, the burial areas have come together as one.

Two historically segregated cemeteries joined as one after town cuts down fence dividing them
Image Source: PaytonWeidman / Twitter

In Mineola, Texas, a metal barrier divided two burial areas, each owned by two separate cemetery associations (not the city itself), at the Cedars Memorial Gardens. On one side of the barrier, Black people were buried, whereas White folks were buried on the other side. In this day and age, it is appalling that such a symbol of resistance would still exist. The 60-year-old chainlink fence, nonetheless, was finally taken down, somewhat erasing the reminder of segregation. The issue had been "on and off" for the past 20 years, CNN reports, but it has finally come to a close.



 

 

Mineola city manager Mercy Rushing confirmed that a crew of five members from the public works street department had removed all 1,280 feet of fencing, finishing on Friday last week, after years of back and forth on the issue. Demethruis Boyd, who moved to the city in 2006 and became a pastor at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, was one of the first few to fight for change 14 years ago. He had attended a funeral only to realize that the cemetery was segregated. He shared, "I was really shell-shocked that in that season of time, the days we were living in, that something like that was still up and had the perception that it gave off."



 

 

Though some changes were made after he asked some questions, such as the discontinuation of separate burials based on skin color and a name change from Mineola City Cemetery to Cedars Memorial Gardens, the fence dividing the "Black cemetery" and the "White cemetery" remained. It was on July 13 this year, when a former Mineola High School student who attended a funeral for a classmate discovered the segregated cemeteries, that something was finally done about it. Rushing explained, "She began to ask me if there is something that the city can do to remove the fence and make it where both work together and be united."



 

 

Rushing got in touch, with the help of Boyd, to both cemetery property owners. After a conversation about the fence, everyone agreed that it would be in everyone's best interests to simply remove it. The city manager affirmed, "The fence that once separated us brought us back together by uniting and removing it once and for all." For the pastor, the removal of the fence was a monumental moment. He stated, "With all the national things that are transpiring, I think it was opening the hearts and minds of more people to get involved and to recognize the symbolism that it (the fence) represents to a greater degree." Part of the fence has been reserved so it can be exhibited at the Mineola Historical Museum and the Texas African American Museum in nearby Tyler. After all, it would be wrong to completely erase the city's racist history without acknowledging it. Boyd affirmed, "Its removal was a historical event."

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