• Sign In
  • Help
  • My Basket0
To Serve the Living: Funeral Directors and the African American Way of Death (Hardback)
  • To Serve the Living: Funeral Directors and the African American Way of Death (Hardback)
zoom

To Serve the Living: Funeral Directors and the African American Way of Death (Hardback)

(author)
£26.95
Hardback 288 Pages / Published: 16/02/2010
  • We can order this

Usually despatched within 1 week

  • This item has been added to your basket

Check Marketplace availability

From antebellum slavery to the twenty-first century, African American funeral directors have orchestrated funerals or 'homegoing' ceremonies with dignity and pageantry. As entrepreneurs in a largely segregated trade, they were among the few black individuals in any community who were economically independent and not beholden to the local white power structure. Most important, their financial freedom gave them the ability to support the struggle for civil rights and, indeed, to serve the living as well as bury the dead. During the Jim Crow era, black funeral directors relied on racial segregation to secure their foothold in America's capitalist marketplace. With the dawning of the civil rights age, these entrepreneurs were drawn into the movement to integrate American society, but were also uncertain how racial integration would affect their business success. From the beginning, this tension between personal gain and community service shaped the history of African American funeral directing. For African Americans, death was never simply the end of life, and funerals were not just places to mourn. In the 'hush harbors' of the slave quarters, African Americans first used funerals to bury their dead and to plan a path to freedom. Similarly, throughout the long - and often violent - struggle for racial equality in the twentieth century, funeral directors aided the cause by honoring the dead while supporting the living. "To Serve the Living" offers a fascinating history of how African American funeral directors have been integral to the fight for freedom.

Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674036215
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 458 g
Dimensions: 210 x 140 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
[Smith] has done a masterful job in her skillful and compelling narrative detailing the critical intersection of the histories of the African American funeral industry and the modern civil rights movement in the United States. Her attention to the contributions of a number of important figures and personalities (e.g., funeral-home owners, funeral directors and embalmers, civil rights leaders, and other historical figures) is unprecedented in its careful and accurate detail. The book documents many of the unsung heroes who were not only caretakers of the dead, but who also made important contributions to civil rights in ways that have never before been so well integrated into a compelling, readable narrative. She is a gifted storyteller and scholar whose mastery of the history's nuances is praiseworthy. The book is a scholarly and well-researched account of an important slice of the American experience--and our story.
--Ronald K. Barrett"African American Review" (09/01/2012)
A revelation . . . Only the most imaginative scholar could use the history of African-American funeral directors to uncover a pivotal part of the struggle for civil rights. That's precisely what Suzanne Smith has done in this wonderfully original, engaging, and illuminating book.--Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age
By getting the dead where they need to go, the living get where they need to be. This deeply human pilgrimage is at the center of Smith's book on African American funeral directors and their frontline service to the nation's journeys from slavery and civil war, through Jim Crow and 'separate but equal' marketplaces--the sad and violent, heroic and hopeful history of race relations and civil rights.--Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade
Smith's richly detailed history of black funerals illuminates the living world of African American experience. An incredibly important book.--Gary Laderman, author of Rest in Peace: A Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Home in Twentieth-Century America
A terrific book. Elegantly written and replete with fascinating details of the African American way of death, To Serve the Living lays bare the role played by black funeral directors in the long struggle for freedom.--Shane White, co-author of Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem Between the Wars
[Smith] has done a masterful job in her skillful and compelling narrative detailing the critical intersection of the histories of the African American funeral industry and the modern civil rights movement in the United States. Her attention to the contributions of a number of important figures and personalities (e.g., funeral-home owners, funeral directors and embalmers, civil rights leaders, and other historical figures) is unprecedented in its careful and accurate detail. The book documents many of the unsung heroes who were not only caretakers of the dead, but who also made important contributions to civil rights in ways that have never before been so well integrated into a compelling, readable narrative. She is a gifted storyteller and scholar whose mastery of the history's nuances is praiseworthy. The book is a scholarly and well-researched account of an important slice of the American experience--and our story.
--Ronald K. Barrett"African American Review" (09/01/2012)

You may also be interested in...

Environmental Hazards
Added to basket
Earthmasters
Added to basket
£16.99
Paperback
Merchants of Doubt
Added to basket
Comfortably Unaware
Added to basket
Environmental Noise Pollution
Added to basket
The Burning Question
Added to basket
Moby-Duck
Added to basket
£8.99
Paperback
Field Notes from a Catastrophe
Added to basket
The God Species
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Carbon Counter
Added to basket
£4.99
Paperback
Six Degrees
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Silent Spring
Added to basket
£9.99
Paperback
Melting Away
Added to basket
£35.00
Hardback

Reviews

Please sign in to write a review

Your review has been submitted successfully.