“Beyond the Divide: the Burr Oak Cemetery Story” is an in-progress documentary film that, through examining the 2009 Burr Oak Cemetery scandal, demonstrates that by truly understanding history, people today can have a better appreciation for life and the legacy they leave behind, thus propelling them to face and conquer persisting social issues.
Burr Oak Cemetery is a historically African-American cemetery just south of Chicago in the suburb of Alsip. It is the final resting place of many well-known people, including civil rights icon Emmett Till, musician Dinah Washington, and a number of Negro League baseball players. The cemetery became even more famous in 2009 when it was the discovered to be the site of a horrific scandal. Over 300 graves had been dug-up to allow for extra burials. Upon the story hitting the news, family members of the deceased converged on the scene; many discovered double-stacked coffins and missing coffins. Some people never did find the remains of their loved ones.
The documentary aims to explore the cultural significance of Burr Oak Cemetery, and how cemeteries in general play a larger role in society, and why they should be paid heed to and more carefully maintained.
Thus far, community activist Ed Boone and acclaimed author/genealogist Tony Burroughs have been interviewed. More interviews are scheduled. If you have family or friends buried at Burr Oak Cemetery and would like to share your testimony for the documentary project, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.