Fence separating Black and white graves removed in Texas town
The 60-year-old fence separated the graves by race.
The metal barrier at Cedars Memorial Gardens served as a reminder of the segregation that once existed in the town. Black people were buried on one side of the fence and white people were buried on the other side. Each side was owned by separate cemetery associations.
Demethruis Boyd moved to the town in 2006 and became a pastor at a local Baptist church. He noticed that the cemetery was segregated after he attended a funeral there. He began working towards having the fence removed.
“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,” Boyd said.
“I got the explanation that in times past it was known as the white cemetery and the Black cemetery, and the fence was a divider between the two properties that were there,” Boyd told KLTV. “That kind of spearheaded my heart to kind of see what we could do about the presentation that it represented and possibly get a resolve that might be conducive with both parties.”
Shirley Bryant Roberson, a Black resident, says her parents, sister-in-law and aunt were buried on the west side of the fence because they were Black. “This has been a lifelong dream to have this fence removed,” she said. “I guess it took time to get it done. If my parents could smile, they would be smiling.”
Roberson also said that even in death, people should not be segregated. “I wanted to cry with joy and happiness,” she continued. “It’s like progress being made.”
A local African-American museum in Tyler has received a portion of the fence to display for historical purposes.
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