Black Entrepreneurship, Religion, and Civil Rights

Paul Harvey

One of my favorite books over the last year or two was Suzanne Smith's To Serve the Living: Funeral Directors and the African American Way of Death, which I blogged about previously here.

This morning, the author, Suzanne Smith (George Mason University), was interviewed on Morning Edition on NPR, talking about the black businessman A. G. Gaston, a figure pretty well known to civil rights historians but largely unknown outside of that. Check out the interview here.

The funeral business proved instrumental in the lives of a lot of ministers, including nineteenth-century minister-entrepreneurs who got in on the ground floor of modern undertaking, as "colored embalmers," and twentieth-century ministers who used their funeral business income to subsidize their activities in other areas, including the original sponsor of Mahalia Jackson's singing tours and radio performances.


Kathryn Lofton said…
PH -- I thought this was a fantastic book, too, and had a great time teaching it in my pop culture seminar this past fall. Glad for the link to her interview. -- KL