Courtesy of Fabrizio Costantini for the Wall Street Journal.

On a cold morning in Detroit, a dozen Detroit undertakers came together to protest the violence in the city. They drove their hearses through the most dangerous parts of the city to remind people of the cost of violence.1

O’Neil D. Swanson was one of these undertakers. When asked the reason of the protest, he answered,

“We want to send a message to youngsters, that we’re concerned, that someone cares because all too often they’re not getting that at home.”

In a city that is sometimes so thick with death and tragedy, it is important that there are men and women with integrity behind the funeral homes that so often care for these victims of violence. While their business is death, each of these undertakers work to serve the living. In Detroit, that means speaking out against the death of so many, and the hope that better times will come.

It also shows a spirit of community. These undertakers have overlapping stories. Names appear over and over again at different funeral homes. The House of Diggs employed Charles Diggs, Jr. and Rebecca Barksdale, and Raymond Cantrell started out at Bristol and Bristol. While in competition, many of these businesses have long-standing relationships with each other and with the community. Like the churches of Detroit, they are vital community organizations, and they are crucial to the fabric of the city.


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