A vice president of an Alabama cemetery, historically reserved for Black families, has resigned from the cemetery’s board. Reverend James Ruttlen, the vice president of the Samson Community Cemetery in Geneva County, resigned following public uproar over the burial of a white man at the site.
Despite succumbing to pressure to abdicate his position, Ruttlen, who is Black, posits that he sees nothing wrong to have white people buried at the cemetery, which has since 1925 been designated a Black cemetery.
“Everything now is integrated,” Ruttlen told WDHN. “Even heaven and hell is integrated. You know, there’s no more Black and white. It’s all the human race, and we have to love each other and show love, compassionate, toward each other no matter what, which is great. I was very excited when I got the call he was wanting to grant his wish to be buried into this cemetery.”
WDHN reports that some Black residents of the Geneva County were outraged the leadership of the cemetery allowed the burial of a white person at the site.
According to reports, the board of the Samson Community Cemetery months earlier granted a request by the Wayne Troublefield’s family to bury their family member at the site. It is believed that with the exclusion of bi-racial individuals, the member of the Wayne Troublefield’s family is the only white person buried there.
“Well yes, a lot of people are upset about it, you know, but we can’t change the way people feel,” Ruttlen said, adding that the outrage emanating from the decision to allow the burial of white person at the site “hurts him spiritually. “
“At this time, to take the pressure off me, to take the stress off me, just step down, I will be resigning,” he said.