When Darrell Semien’s family reached out to purchase a burial plot in Oaklin Springs Cemetery following his death on Sunday, his wife Karla said her late husband was denied a burial plot because he was black, according to Fox News 8.
The cemetery had a rule in the contract from when it began in the 1950s that allowed only the “remains of white human beings” to be buried on the land, reported Fox News 8. Karla Semien told The Washington Post that her husband wanted to be buried near their home in Oberlin, Louisiana, and near the sheriff’s office at which he worked.
“We can’t sell you a plot. This is a Whites-only cemetery. There are no coloreds here,” she told the Post, recalling what the Oaklin Springs Baptist Cemetery overseer had said.
“It’s mind-blowing,” she continued in the interview. “He was good enough to protect you, being a police officer of all these years, but he wasn’t good enough to be laid to rest in your cemetery?”
The cemetery board held an emergency meeting two days after Semien’s family contacted them and removed the whites-only provision from its sales contracts, reported CBS News.
Board President for the cemetery H. Craig Vizena told Fox News 8 he was unaware that the contract stipulated only whites could be buried at the cemetery. (RELATED: Two Men Arrested For Stealing Military Remains From Cemetery For ‘Religious Practices,’ Police Say)
“I’m sorry I have no better explanation for it than that,” he told the outlet. “I can’t answer a question that I don’t know the answer to. I refuse to speculate on it. I just know that it was wrong and now it’s right.”
Vizena told Fox News 8 he had apologized to the family and offered one of his own plots in the small cemetery, but the offer was turned down. He also said the overseer at the cemetery had been “relieved of her duties.”