Louisiana cemetery ends “Whites Only” contract after Black Sheriff’s deputy’s Death

The Board of Oaklin Springs Cemetery held an emergency meeting on Thursday, January 28, 2021 to correct the legal language in the sales contract since the cemetery’s founding in late 1950’s, which specified that the cemetery would be open “for the burial of the remains of white human beings.”

This emergency meeting came together after board president H. Creig Vizena learned that the cemetery had refused the burial of Allen Paris Sheriff’s Deputy Darrell Semien, as he was Black.

Karla Semien explained that she was shocked to find out and refused to believe it until the employee showed her the contract.

Darrell Semien was 55 when he passed away and had served as a police officer for the Reeves Police Department and Allen Parish Sheriff’s Officer for 15 years. He was diagnosed with cancer 6 years ago, and found out it had returned on December 15. He was sent for hospice care and passed away on Sunday. Mr. Semien had chosen Oaklin Springs Cemetery as it was close to their home and the police station. They now plan to bury him tomorrow at a cemetery 15 miles away instead, and she would always remember how he could not rest at the place of his choice simply of his race.

Board president Vizena stated that the woman that had turned the Semiens away was his aunt, who is in her 80’s. She was relieved of her duties at this time. He explained that the language had never been changed as no person of color had ever sought to be buried there since its inception.

He expects that there are likely to be several plots that have the same languages in them.

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