Burr Oak History

The history of Burr Oak Cemetery is defined by struggle, challenges and perseverance. The migration of thousands of African Americans to the Chicago area presented the need for a proper burial site for black families.  In 1927, land for the cemetery was purchased in Alsip, but many in the community were opposed to having an African American cemetery in their town. Armed police blocked the first burial and cemetery dedication until a deputy sheriff stood guard so the interment could take place. Despite much opposition, Burr Oak Cemetery was finally established.

Through the years, Burr Oak became an important part of the fabric of the community. Families found solace together, as they laid their loved ones to rest in a place so familiar and close to their hearts. The cemetery became a resting place of national significance for famous athletes and musicians who left home and found fame, such as blues singers Dinah Washington and Willie Dixon, heavyweight boxing champ Ezzard Charles and former players in the Negro baseball league.

Burr Oak was also thrust into the national spotlight again when 14 year old Emmett Till, kidnapped and murdered in Mississippi while visiting relatives, was brought home for burial. The funeral drew thousands of horrified mourners to Burr Oak and sparked the beginning of the civil rights movement.

Rich in history, and restored for the future, Burr Oak Cemetery remains a source of comfort and a place for reflection for families who want to honor the past and ensure that they’ll always be close to their loved ones.


Contact Us

Phone: 773.233.5676

Burr Oak Hours

Office Hours
Monday - Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Saturday: 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Gates Open: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.