The board of a Louisiana cemetery that denied burial to a Black sheriff’s deputy reportedly held an emergency meeting on Thursday (January 28) to remove a whites-only provision from its sales contracts.
Fifty-five-year-old Darrell Semien told his family he wanted to be buried near his home in Oberlin, Louisiana, which is close to the sheriff’s office where he worked, according to the Washington Post.
His widow, Karla, and their seven kids, located a graveyard befitting of his wish, just a few miles outside of the town in rural Louisiana. But they were denied when they inquired about buying a plot at Oaklin Springs Baptist Cemetery.
“‘Oh, we’re going to have a dispute,’” Semien says a woman in the office told her. “ ‘We can’t sell you a plot. This is a whites-only cemetery. There are no coloreds here.’”
Siemens decided she wasn’t going to remain silent about the shocking incident and fought back by recounting the story on her Facebook page.
“She stood in front of me and all my kids wow what a slap in the face,” Siemens wrote in a post on January 26. “I just can’t believe in 2021 in oberlin Louisiana this is happening.”
Semien told KPLC-TV on Wednesday that she was especially disappointed about the then-denial of burial because of her husband’s life of public service.
“To be told this is like we were nothing. He was nothing? He put his life on the line for them,” she told the television news station.
H. Creig Vizena, board president for Oaklin Springs Cemetery, said on Thursday (January 28) he was stunned to learn about the racist provision. He claims the board members removed the word “white” from a stipulation, conveying “the right of burial of the remains of white human beings.”
Vizena also says the site’s overseer, who is in her 80s and his aunt, has been removed from her position at the cemetery. He also offered to give Semien’s family a free burial plot for Mr. Semien. She rejected the offer.
“No matter what,” Semien told The Washington Post, “my kids are going to remember for the rest of their life that their father couldn’t be buried in that cemetery because he is Black.”