WACO – The City of Waco took a stance against segregation Tuesday by removing the fence that has continued to divide Greenwood Cemetery for decades.
The cemetery, which was originally opened in the late 1800s, was cared for by two separate organizations – one for the black side and the other for the white side -- until the city began caring for the site within the last ten years.
On Tuesday morning, crews with the Waco Parks and Recreation Department used a forklift and power tools to tear down the chain-link fence that divided the cemetery between races.
"God works in mysterious ways. We can't hurry God,” said City Councilman Wilbert Austin, who was at the cemetery to watch the fence be torn down. “We might have wanted to do it 99 years ago, but God said no, I'll wait until 2016 to do it."
The city has budgeted $300,000 to completely remove the fence, revamp the cemetery’s entrance and build an entirely new fence around the perimeter of the site.
Soldiers who fought in the civil war are buried the cemetery, city leaders confirmed, as well as Broadway singer Jules Bledsoe.
“The history goes back quite a ways. I've seen headstones where individuals were part of several different military eras. And, so it's got a rich history,” said John Williams, the city’s director of parks and recreation.
Williams said he originally hoped to have the project completed by the end of the summer, but concerns about unmarked graves and property lines will reshape the timeline.