Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Burr Oak Hits Home

When the news about the horrific happenings at Chicago's historic Burr Oak Cemetery broke a few weeks ago I had this unsettling deja vu moment.

As some of you long time TransGriot readers may know, my roomie Dawn and I both have relatives in the Chicago area. I used to early in my airline days frequently visit them during the early 90's, sometimes with my then best friend and co-worker Eric Shepherd along for the ride to hit some of the house music venues.

I knew that Burr Oak was one of the cemeteries where many prominent Black Chicagoans have been laid to rest. It is also the resting place of Emmitt Till, whose 1954 lynching was the emotional spark that jump started the African American civil rights movement.

When I watched the news coverage of the unfolding events I had a 'where have I heard that name before' alert going off in my head. The reason I was having the bad moment became clear when I called home last Friday and talked to my mother.

My first trip to Chicago was back in August 1986. It was my first airplane ride as we took an Eastern Airlines Moonlight Special flight from Houston Intercontinental to Chicago O'Hare to attend the funeral of my Uncle Leon.

My uncle had passed away on August 2, and the date sticks in my mind because it was the same day as the fatal Delta air crash at DFW.

My mom has a summa cum laude degree in history and is basically our family historian.

She keeps the records of all family events such as our reunions, weddings and funerals and was having the same unsettling feeling I had upon hearing the name Burr Oak earlier this month. Mom decided to pull out and reread my Uncle Leon's program.

When I talked to her, Mom dropped the bomb for me that Uncle Leon was buried in Burr Oak.

I was already concerned, pissed and mortified about the horrific crap that had happened there and greed being the motivating factor for it. It was initially reported that First Lady Michelle Obama's father Fraser Robinson III was buried there as well, but the White House later released a statement that he wasn't.

Unfortunately, there are families like mine all over the country and the Chicago area who do have loved ones buried there. I'm still awaiting word from my Chicago relatives to find out if my Uncle Leon's grave or headstone was disturbed.

Emmitt Till's grave was one of the 300 graves disturbed. After all the pain that the Till family has suffered, to have those painful wounds reopened again in such a disgusting way makes me sick to my stomach.

As Jesse Senior said, there's a special place in Hades for the people who perpetrated this evil. When these wastes of DNA are brought to justice for it, may the Cook County court system and the state Of Illinois throw the book at them so they can spend the rest of their miserable lives rotting in jail.

1 comment:

tee said...

This was just Horrible, i also remember when i lived in Houston for a moment, 95, that they were moving the oldest african american grave site for redevelopment, i was as in this case horrified. Can you imaging moving Arlington National cemetery ( shaking head) and yes lets not get stated on all the scared sites like Mt Rushmore or Mt craved white-men in holy land. Any way love your blog.
best day to you,
Tee