Work begins to remove fence that once divided segregated Mineola cemetery

Work begins to remove fence that once divided segregated Mineola cemetery

MINEOLA, Texas (KLTV) - Dozens of people gathered Wednesday in a Mineola cemetery to witness a change they say has been a long time coming.

City crews began the work to tear down the fence that has segregated Cedars Memorial Gardens for decades. Demethrius T. Boyd, pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, was one of those proud to witness the change — calling it God’s work.

“Years in the making. Decades in the making,” Boyd said. “And by God’s grace, we’ve gotten here, and we look forward to what’s coming next. If we can take down these fences, we can take down other fences in our hearts that separate us.”

The once-divided cemeteries date back to the late 1800s, according to Jim Phillips of the Mineola Landmark Commission. He called the fence removal a historic moment for the City of Mineola.

“Such a great, symbolic gesture of unity and hope for our community. This fence had become an issue for unity and different people through the years have worked towards this day,” Phillips said.

The project has drawn support from lifelong Mineola residents and those who have moved away. Boyd said those who have moved away have voiced their support for the project on social media, praising it as a moment of unity for the city.

Glenda McKissic Baylor has lived in Mineola all her life. The self-described eternal optimist said she has always known this day would come.

“I’m just glad to be here to witness it,” she said. “This fence has always been a point of heartache for our community. When they were cutting the fence, my heart just started fluttering and a sense of pride now to know that after 60 years — I’m more than 60, so, all my life — that fence has been there whenever we buried our loved ones and friends.”

She’s thankful to those who came together to make the project a priority and get it done so fast. City Manager Mercy Rushing previously said the idea to remove the fence resurfaced last week.

It will take about a week to remove the more than 200 yards of fencing. The work is being done by the City of Mineola Public Works Department. The next step is to bring both parts of the cemetery under one entity.

“We are moving forward to become one Mineola,” Baylor said. “One heart. One mind. One city. One cemetery.”

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