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Grant number like: FB-52308-06

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Suzanne Eileen Smith
George Mason University (Fairfax, VA 22030-4444)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2006 – 6/30/2007

A Cultural History of African American Funeral Directing

This project argues that African-American funeral directors relationship to the living is as important as their relationship to the dead. African-American funeral directors "serve the living" in many capacities--working actively as civic leaders, politicians, and civil rights organizers. Moreover, these funeral directors sustain the cultural life of their communities by acting as religious leaders, sponsoring radio stations, and promoting the arts and education through outreach programming. This study analyzes how black funeral directors often used their role as civic leaders to combat racial discrimination and, therefore, offers new insights about how black entrepreneurship contributes to African Americans' fight for racial equality.