Why Are the Cemeteries in Micanopy Segregated?

Why Are the Cemeteries in Micanopy Segregated?

Micanopy FLorida

There are two cemeteries in Micanopy; the Micanopy Historic Cemetery founded by Dr. Lucius Montgomery Sr. in 1826 and The Haynes Memorial Cemetery which was established in 1876 with land donated by Mrs. Joan Cobb, a wife of one of the Trustees from the Micanopy Historical Cemetery.

The Micanopy Historic Cemetery is known for being the ‘white cemetery’ while The Haynes Memorial Cemetery was often known as the Colored Cemetery. The Micanopy Historic Cemetery is just a whistle away from downtown. To get to the Haynes Memorial Cemetery you would have to drive south down 441 for a mile, turn onto the same street as the Animal Hospital and head down a narrow, yet beautiful, dirt road until you reach a dead end.

The Haynes Memorial Cemetery is legendary for presenting the ancestors of many of Micanopy’s most prominent Black families. The Micanopy Historic Cemetery is known for presenting the ancestors of Micanopy’s prominent White families. More than 200 years after The Micanopy Historic Cemetery was formed, a Black person has never been buried there.

But there could have been.

Mary McKenzie and her husband MacDonald McKenzie were the first Black Micanopy couple to purchase plots in The Historic Micanopy Cemetery. The plots were sold to them for $500 each in 2009.

Purchasing burial plots in Micanopy made perfect sense for the McKenzie’s. After she and her husband retired, they relocated from Sarasota to Micanopy to enjoy the best of their lives. McDonald retired from the Sarasota County School Board and enjoyed fishing and gardening in Micanopy. Mary, a retired registered nurse, was an active member of the Micanopy Collaborators for Educational Excellence (MCEE) and a tutor for this group. She also enjoyed volunteering at the Micanopy Museum.

Although the McKenzie’s are now both deceased, Micanopy was their home for their best years, yet, they were not buried at the Micanopy Historic Cemetery as planned.

When Mary passed away in 2017, her husband MacDonald decided not to bury her in the plots they already owned in Micanopy. Instead he chose to bury her in her hometown of Sarasota, Florida. When he passed in 2021, he was buried there next to her.

The two McKenzie plots are located on Lot C-32, on the right side of the cemetery, next to the Cohen marker, which is a double marker with an engraved rose. Both spaces are still reserved for the McKenzies.

According to Claudia Larsen, the President & Lot Chairman of the Micanopy Historical Cemetery, the Cemetery does not exclude members of the Micanopy community from purchasing lots based on race or religion.

Well then, why has no other Black family been buried there? Are the cemeteries in Micanopy segregated? Well, not in the – we still believe in separation of the races– kind of way.

This Black couple did not choose to purchase plots in the ‘white cemetery’ because they wanted to integrate it. The McKenzies chose to purchase burial plots in the Micanopy Historical Cemetery because they had no other family in Micanopy that they wanted to be buried next to.

Being buried in the Haynes Memorial Cemetery is a tradition among Black families in Micanopy. To break this tradition would leave a Black community member to be laid to rest apart from their ancestors and family…for all eternity.

Colonizers sold our ancestors away from each other without remorse. Systematic racism targeted our progress. In this case, segregation is chosen because even when Black folks had to endure the many oppressive, trying times in Black history, we still chose to live, love and stay together…forever.

4 Responses to “Why Are the Cemeteries in Micanopy Segregated?

  • Stephen Eisenman
    1 year ago

    wow. beautiful story about a painful history.

  • Ana Varela
    1 year ago

    As a white person I have never thought about this; I just assumed there were Black people buried in the Historic Cemetery amongst the whites!
    This gives me a different perspective to say the least!
    Thanks fort writing about it!

  • Pamela smith
    1 year ago

    Sounds to me like the reason no.blacks are buried in the historic cemetery is because they chose not to be. You have a prominent black.couple that bought plots there yet for reasons we don’t know were not used but are still owned by the family.You have the President of the cemetery and lot chairman state no one is being kept out due to race or religion so.it must be lack of desire to be buried there

  • Darby Delane
    1 year ago

    Excellent piece! I had discovered the Haynes Cemetery in 1999 and realized then that Micanopy had a history of burial segregation. Racism sinks deep into systems and structures until we perpetuate it without conscious thought. Thank you for researching this topic!