"It makes me angry," said Mary Mitchell. She can't find her mother's grave. "She's buried here somewhere?," asked NewsChannel 11. "Yes," she replied. "But you don't know where?," we asked. "No, no records," she said.
"We think it's a travesty," said Attorney Steve Claus. He's representing Mitchell and five other people suing the city for allegedly abhorrent behavior towards the grave sites of African Americans during the first half of the 20th century. "Can you imagine trying to find your mother's grave that you visited previously and finding someone else buried there? It's horrifying," said Claus.
The lawsuit contains a litany of disturbing claims; persons buried under the wrong name, grave sites being lost, headstones placed on the wrong grave sites, removal of headstones, and remains of people buried on top of other people.
"An ugly time," said attorney Brad Boyd, describing past attitudes towards black graves. Over the past six weeks he's literally walked the grounds looking for relatives of clients. "Have you found anyone you're looking for?," asked NewsChannel 11. "No," he said.
Up until 1975 the cemetery was segregated, but even now, 29 years later, the sting of racism is still being felt. "It makes me feel like we didn't count. It's inhuman," said Mitchell.
Both attorneys and Mitchell say the current staff at the city cemetery has been very courteous and helpful in their search for answers.
Friday, May 14th, the attorney's are holding a public meeting at Mae Simmons, looking for any information regarding the whereabouts of relatives, or if other families have encountered similar situations they are also encouraged to attend. The meeting takes place at 6:30.