A Texas cemetery board that told a woman it could not bury her husband because he is Hispanic has reversed its decision.
Donna Barrera was hoping to bury the ashes of her late husband, Pedro Barrera, at the San Domingo Cemetery in Normanna, Texas, but claims that she was turned away by cemetery board member Jimmy Bradford because of her deceased husband’s ethnicity. Normanna is small town of just over 100 people about an hour and a half southeast of San Antonio.
"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," Jimmy Bradford, owner of the San Domingo Cemetery Association, told local media.
Speaking to the Corpus Christi Caller Times, Bradford’s daughter – who did not want to be named – attempted to clear up the matter by saying that her father’s decision had nothing to do with race, but that the cemetery was originally a family plot meant for the descendants of the town’s original founders. Bradford added that Barrera had only been a resident for 15 years before his death.
Still the board late last week decided to reverse the decision and allow Barrera to bury her husband’s ashes in the cemetery.
"Fifteen years is new in little town years," Bradford said. "But regardless, he is a resident no matter the time frame."
Barrera, who is threatening to take legal action against the San Domingo Cemetery, did not respond to requests for comment from Fox News Latino.
The decision to allow the burial, however, did little to quell the anger of numerous state officials and civil rights groups, who have denounced the board of the San Domingo Cemetery.
In a statement, State Senator Judith Zaffirini said that her office was notified of the situation and vowed to help ensure Barrera could be buried there.
"Mrs. Barrera and her family should be mourning their loved one, instead of having to fight to secure him a resting place in his own community," the statement said. "Denying someone a burial on the basis of race is not only shocking—it's illegal."
Bee County Constable Cliff Bagwell said that he checked the cemetery’s records and nowhere did it say that people of Hispanic descent could not be buried there.
“It just says ‘citizens’,” Bagwell told MySA.com. “Back then, it’s the way it was. Whether it’s good or bad, that’s the way it was.”
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.