Introduction

The culture of death in the African American culture has evolved differently than that of White culture. Many traditions originate in slavery and the practice of ‘homegoing’ which focused on the true freedom of heaven rather than the loss of death. For many, homegoing meant a final escape from slavery, which created a tradition of celebration around funerals.

This celebration and community aspect in the African American way of death has evolved into a culture that is unique and vibrant, a culture culminating in long-standing funeral homes, celebrations, and cemeteries.

What follows is an examination of that culture’s evolution, and the way it has woven into the history of Detroit.

funeralofsawmillworker
“Funeral of nineteen year old Negro saw mill worker in Heard County, Georgia, May 1941.” Courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Collections.
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