Old Live Oak: proof decency does still exist

Published 11:25 pm Thursday, July 16, 2009

A view of the macabre emerged from Chicago several days ago as authorities there discovered former workers at a historic black cemetery near Chicago allegedly dug up hundreds of bodies in a scheme to resell grave plots.

Now authorities have told relatives that piles of bones and deteriorated records may make identifying many remains impossible.

The Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill., is the final resting place for about 100,000 graves, 300 of which officials believe were tampered with. The cemetery is the burial place of Emmett Till, the Chicago teenager who was lynched for allegedly wolf whistling at a white woman in Money, Miss. The late Rosa Parks had said Till’s death influenced her decision to protest the Jim Crow law on Montgomery buses.

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Till’s grave was not disturbed.

The situation at Burr Oak is unique. But it brings home the issues of trying to care for and protect those things historic.

Here in Selma we have a historic cemetery. Fortunately, nobody has desecrated Old Live Oaks Cemetery. It is protected by the historic district in which the cemetery is situated and by people who care about the history of the area.

We are fortunate here in Selma to live among decent people.