Editor’s Note: There is a language advisory in this story—a racial slur is not bleeped at 6:05.
When Pedro Barrera passed away in 2016, his wife Dorothy tried to bury him in their local cemetery in the small town of Normanna, Texas. The local San Domingo cemetery guarantees a plot to all Normanna residents, so Dorothy tried to have him buried him. But she ran into trouble.
One day, Barrera was out with her caretaker, Amanda Brown, when she ran into Jimmy Bradford, the head of the cemetery board. When Barrera asked him about burying her husband Pedro, Bradford replied: “Take him 15, 20 miles down the county road there. That’s where we bury the n** and Mexicans.”
Barrera contacted LULAC, GI Forum, and the NAACP, and they organized a protest at the cemetery. Meanwhile, MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, took up the case and sued the cemetery board.
This controversy prompted shock and outrage, but it’s not an isolated incident. Texas has a long history of segregation, and there are still segregated cemeteries all across the state.
Latino USA tells the story of Dorothy Barrera and explores the larger history of segregated cemeteries.
Featured image: Noam Hassenfeld