The city of Dayton in Texas officially brought down a decades-old fence that separated a white cemetery from a black one.
According to the Associated Press, the chain-link fence, which separated the whites-only Linney Cemetery and the blacks-only Acie Cemetery was taken down in April by Henry Buxton, an 85-year-old white maintenance volunteer.
The historic merger saw the light of day after the presidents of the Linney and Acie cemeteries, Mike George and Lynda Young brought the request forward to Dayton’s city council, who subsequently voted unanimously for the fence to be taken down, reports The Houston Chronicle.
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According to records, the Linney Cemetery Association was established in 1903 while the Acie Cemetery was established in 1928. Initially without a historic cemetery marker and only featuring on that of Linney’s in just a sentence, Acie was finally granted one after the fence was removed.
Young, who revealed she shed tears the first time she saw the cemeteries without the fence expressed her satisfaction.
“We can move forward,” she said.
George also deemed the separation to be unnecessary.
“It should have been done years ago,” he added.
Buxton, who grew up in segregated Dayton and has relatives buried in Linney said he was brought up to not say “yes sir” to black men and not open doors for black women. Named after a slave owner, Dayton also expressed his joy after he was granted the privilege of taking down the fence.
“I never realized how much prettier it is without that fence,” he said.
The merger was also applauded by assistant history professor at the University of Texas Whitney Stewart.
“People are very willing to continue living in the same kind of segregated world,” she said. “It should be applauded that these physical barriers are finally coming down, but then how do we bring it forward to other important areas of life, whether it be housing or economic inequality?”
Board members of the newly merged cemetery association are applying for a non-profit status and also currently deliberating on pricing as Linney charges almost double of what Acie takes for burial spaces, The Houston Chronicle further reports.