The Detroit News
February 21, 2012
Venerated funeral profession has deep roots in Detroit
They have cared for their community’s dead for more than a century.
From traditions like washing bodies before embalming to hosting lengthy funerals as a final nod to the departed, African-American funeral directors have a longstanding footing in their community.
O’Neil D. Swanson has been burying Detroit’s dead for 54 years.
In fact, Swanson is only two generations removed from the first African-American funeral home in the United States, which was established in 1886.
The establishment of black funeral homes was as much a sense of “racial pride” as it was a necessity, he says.
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