Some may find it hard to believe that even though we are in the year 2016, a cemetery in the city of Denton, Texas, still has a “whites only” deed restriction. Several council members are now seeking to remove the decades-old deed restriction that bars blacks from being buried in the city-controlled cemetery, USA Today said in a recent report. However, the task may prove to be more difficult than initially thought.
“You have to have so many of the property owners within that restricted area agreeing to change it,” Council Member Gregory Dalton explained. “Well, this is a cemetery.”
Denton has a population of roughly 130,000 and is located on the north end of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex in North Texas. The historic Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery serves as the final resting place for many of Denton’s earliest inhabitants, elected officials, and veterans of wars dating back to the Texas Revolution. It has been under the authority of the city for over 80 years.
As reported by WZZM, several council members were shocked when they recently learned that the language on the original deed for the property on South Carroll Boulevard says its burial plots are only for white people.
“Oh, I was stunned,” Gregory Dalton, a long-time Denton resident, was quoted as saying.
Willie Hudspeth, a civil-rights activist and president of Denton’s NAACP chapter, brought up the “whites only” rule during a council meeting last month.
“It was actually a white guy that told me,” Hudspeth told reporters. “I didn’t believe it at first. Surely, there would be someone here that is not white!”
Although the deed restriction calls for only whites to be buried on the grounds, Gregory said African-Americans and people of other races are buried there because the deed restriction hasn’t been enforced in over 60 years.
“We have to live with that history, learn from that history, and we’ve got to acknowledge it,” Gregory noted.
The below text is the ordinance that council members will consider Tuesday night.
“Consider adoption of an ordinance of the City of Denton finding and declaring a restriction contained in the 1933 deed between the IOOF and the City of Denton convening the said cemetery to the City of Denton prohibiting the use of the said cemetery for the burial of non-white persons to be illegal, unenforceable, unconscionable, contrary and repugnant to the philosophy, principals and beliefs of the City of Denton and that the said restrictive language shall not be enforced or recognized on any city-owned or managed property and providing an effective date.”
Denton is once again at the center of controversy after the relatively small city made headlines last year for denying gay marriage despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court had officially legalized marriage equality in all 50 states. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Denton County Clerk Juli Luke refused two same-sex couples an application for a marriage license because she claimed that she needed to receive legal guidance from the district attorney’s office.
“Same-sex marriage is in contradiction to my faith and belief that marriage is between one man and one woman,” said Luke. “However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family bible to uphold the law as an elected public official. My personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required.”
Denton County Judge Mary Horn said at the time that if a same-sex couple came to her requesting to be wed, she would refuse them. She said that the difference between the actions of elected officials in Dallas County and Denton County on Friday reflected “a difference in core philosophies.”
[Image via video screenshot]