Texas Town Removes Decades-Old Fence That Separated Black and White Graveyards

JC Brown, Skipper Hortman and Mark Hooks of Mineola Public Works work to remove the fence between the segregated Black burial area at Cedars Memorial Gardens Cemetery, formerly Mineola City Cemetery, on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 in Mineola, Texas. The City of Mineola created a public event for people to come watch the historic removal of the fence by Mineola Public Works. The two cemetery organizations working together on the fence removal project are Cedars Memorial Garden Association (formally Mineola Cemetery) and City of Mineola Cemetery Association. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph via AP)

For decades, a fence divided the Black and white cemeteries in the small east Texas town of Mineola.

The fence has come down.

On Wednesday, crews began digging up the chain-link fence that was 1,280 feet long, separating City Cemetery, which held the graves of Black people, from Cedars Memorial Garden, which held graves of white people.

The project was completed Friday evening, St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church pastor Demethrius Boyd told NBC News in a phone interview Saturday.

“The symbolism that it represents is far beyond the year that we are now in in race relations,” said Boyd, who is Black, “and the perspective that it gives off is far beyond the time that we need to make sure that we promote things that are more positive in nature.”

Boyd said he has been working since 2007 to get the fence removed. Conversations about taking it down were revived a few weeks ago after a funeral for an African American former FBI agent and Marine drew mourners from outside Mineola, which is about 75 miles east of Dallas.

That funeral, combined with the social climate in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, led Boyd to once again seek to remove the fence.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Minyvonne Burke; The Associated Press