Hispanic man denied burial at 'whites only cemetery' in Texas

A cemetery in a small Texas town has denied a woman's request to bury her husband there simply because he is Hispanic.

In fact, the cemetery in Normanna, Texas says its policy does not allow any Hispanic or black people to be buried there.

"I love my husband with all my heart," Donna Barrera said of her deceased husband Pedro to Kiiitv 3 in South Texas. "That was 44 years with him and then all of a sudden this comes out of the woodwork."

Donna asked the owner of the ironically Latino named San Domingo Cemetery if she could bury her husband's ashes there and the owner, rather emphatically, said no.

"He wasn't supposed to be buried there, because he's a Mexican, or of Spanish descent, or whatever you want to say. That's what I told her and that's what we've been doing," said Jimmy Bradford, owner of the San Domingo Cemetery Association, to the South Texas Local Station.

Bradford says the land belonged to his great, great grandfather who asked that it be used as a cemetery for the people of Normanna. When asked by a local reporter whether he would reconsider his decision, Bradford said, "Well, I guess if she tells Obama and he comes down here and tells me I guess I'd have to. Otherwise, No."

Headstones show the names of American veterans who died in 1898.

Donna's caregiver and friend – both of whom are Hispanic – were there when Bradford told Donna that she couldn't bury her husband at the cemetery because of his ethnicity.

"I just heard him telling her that he had to be buried over there with the blacks," Alfredo Lopez said.

"There shouldn't be no racism, at all. We are all one kind and for him to have said that to her – it’s horrible," the caregiver Amanda Brown told Kiiitv.

This is the second time in as many months that the issue of a "Whites Only Cemetery" has come up in Texas. In February the city council of Denton unanimously approved an ordinance that renounced a 1933 deed requirement at a city cemetery that limited burial plots to white people.

It is illegal to enforce a Whites Only Cemetery based on a 1948 Supreme Court case, Shelley v. Kraemer, which outlaws racial covenants on real estate.

Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said he intends to refer the issue to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

"We intend to refer the issue to the department of justice. You can’t discriminate on the basis of race. It is completely illegal and against the constitution, and we intend to ensure that this cemetery is opened up,” Wilkes said. "It’s obviously very disturbing and disappointing I thought it was something we buried 50 years ago.”

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