Punta Gorda man to break color barrier at local cemetery


PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- A former history teacher will eventually make history himself.

Mark English was so moved when he attended a dedication ceremony at an all black cemetery, that he decided he wanted to someday be buried in that very same graveyard.

The decision would make him the only white man in the once segregated cemetery.

“You know with what’s going on in the world today, there’s a lot of racial tension. I doubt very seriously if this would have any calming effect on it, but you know if I could touch one person in doing this… all the better to the world,” said English.

The cemetery was historically segregated and remains entirely black today but the county says it’s open to all.

A few weeks ago English attended the dedication of the ‘Lieutenant Carl Bailey Cemetery’ in honor of Florida’s first black Air Force jet pilot who’s buried on the grounds.

“That’s when I found out Bailey was a jet fighter in Korea and my dad was in the Army so basically you know he was protecting my dad at the same time and I didn’t realize that until I went to the memorial,” said English.

Lieutenant Bailey was safeguarding English’s father who was advancing over desolate terrain during the Korean War.

“To be with somebody that protected my dad… I kind of like that idea,” said English.

Now he says when the time comes, he’s ready to pay it forward for the rest of eternity.

“As a history teacher, it’s kind of funny, but in a way I’m making, by dying, I’m making history,” said English

English is now in the process of reserving his plot in the cemetery.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.