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 at: December 21, 2010 at 3:09 PM 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

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