A cemetery in southwest Louisiana refused to accept the remains of a recently passed Black man, and cited Jim Crow-era’s bylaws that permitted such exclusions decades ago.
Darrel Semien, Allen Parish Sheriff’s Deputy, passed this week aged 55 from bladder cancer. Even though he had hoped to be buried close to his home in Oberlin, which is halfway between New Orleans and Houston.
Semien’s loved ones approached Oaklin Springs Baptist Cemetery, but they were shocked when a representative of the cemetery said that it was for white people only.
Widow Karla Semien told KPLC that she just looked at the representative, and the representative said: ‘There’s no coloreds allowed’.
The president of the Oaklin Springs Cemetary Association confirmed that such language exists and showed a contract stating that Oaklin Springs only allows for ‘white human beings’ to be buried.
The prohibition has been put in place in the 1950s, and Creig Vizena, the president of the Oaklin Springs Cemetery Association claimed that he never knew this prohibition even existed.
“I take full responsibility of that. I’ve been the president for several years. I take full responsibility for not reading the bylaws. It never came up”.
The cemetery’s board has since changed the bylaws, and Vizena claims that he’s horrified and wants to give Semien’s family a plot for no charge.
“I can’t sell you one, but I can give you one of mine. That’s how strongly I feel about fixing it.” – he said.
Semien’s family, however, turned down the offer and instead laid him to rest at Sonnier Cemetary in Oberlin.
Source: NBC News