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Passed on: African American Mourning Stories, a Memorial [Paperback]

Karla F. C. Holloway , Karla Fcholloway , Holloway
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 30 2002 John Hope Franklin Center Book
Passed On is a portrait of death and dying in twentieth-century African America. Through poignant reflection and thorough investigation of the myths, rituals, economics, and politics of African American mourning and burial practices, Karla FC Holloway finds that ways of dying are just as much a part of black identity as ways of living. Gracefully interweaving interviews, archival research, and analyses of literature, film, and music, Holloway shows how the vulnerability of African Americans to untimely death is inextricably linked to how black culture represents itself and is represented. With a focus on the "death-care" industry - black funeral homes and morticians, the history of the profession and its practices - Holloway examines all facets of the burial business, from physicians, hospital chaplains, and hospice administrators, to embalming-chemical salesmen, casket makers, funeral directors, and grieving relatives. She uses narrative, photographs, and images to summon a painful history of lynchings, white rage and riot, medical malpractice and neglect, executions, and neighborhood violence. Revealing both unexpected humor and anticipated tragedy, Holloway tells a story of the experiences of black folk in the funeral profession and its clientele. She also reluctantly describes how her son's death, in the midst of her writing of this book, painfully brought her research home. Karla FC Holloway is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Duke University. She is the author of Moorings and Metaphors: Culture and Gender in Black Women's Literature and Codes of Conduct: Race, Ethics, and the Color of Our Character. Holloway is also Associate Faculty Scholar in the Duke Institute for Care at the End of Life.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Black StudiesAfrican-American burial and embalming rituals, funeral services and undertaking industry are all examined in Passed On: African American Mourning Stories, a cultural analysis of death and dying among 20th-century black Americans. Duke University English professor Karla F.C. Holloway combines historical research with interviews of present-day undertakers and others as she chronicles the discrimination and violent threats faced by black funeral parlor owners; the development of rituals like open-casket services and processions; and the influence of disproportionately violent black deaths on mourning practices. Punctuated with Holloway's personal stories (including that of her son's death), the book is an elegantly written survey for general readers and cultural historians alike.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Holloway shares her research into the seldom-explored subject of death and dying in the African American community. Confining her investigation to contemporary mourning rituals, she interviewed countless numbers of funeral directors, ministers, casket makers, physicians, and bereaved friends and relatives. By interweaving these conversations with visits to the gravesites of prominent black Americans and examples of death and grief as portrayed in literature, music, and the media, she provides an in-depth analysis of the unique psychology of death prevalent in African American society. According to the author, African Americans live more closely and deal more realistically with the philosophical concept and physical reality of death than do most other Americans. This close association with grief and tragedy has culminated in a number of distinctive religious and secular ceremonies and traditions that are examined in this fascinating sociological survey. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Quiet as it's kept, if the question "Who's got the body?" had been asked very early in the twentieth century, the answer could have been white folk. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected May 5 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As one who is employed in the death care industry I read the book hoping to learn about the liabilities that confronted African Americans both as bereaved families and as funeral providers. Of the 4 chapters the first and last really show, in my opinion, these problems whereas the second and third cover the reasons why these people die, be it race riots, lynchings, police problems, gang wars and so on. Although the stories depicted in those chapters are more than sad, they do not really address the crux of the book - the African American dealing with the after death. I was hoping for more information in that respect.
If nothing else the descriptions and reasons for the murders of these people is enough to make you wish this sort of thing could never happen again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, eloquent Aug. 7 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book captures the reader and doesn't let go. The story of death and dying is itself fascinating...but the way in which she weaves the story of her son's death; the history of black funeral directors; and the incredible photos make this a must- read book.
All you want to know about death, dying, and burial...and all we must know about these African American traditions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Death: the closing act March 13 2002
Format:Hardcover
This book has a very detailed description of the deathcare industry as it relates to African-Americans. Once you get past the emotional prologue that recounts the death of the author's son, you get a very engaging story of the funeral industry, the history of black deaths in the US, and the importance of community during times of bereavement. On the lighter side, there is discussion of "the show" associated with African-American funerals. The truth and insights in this discussion allowed me to relive my experience of going to rural southern funerals. It particularly reminded me of playing TAPS, hidden behind moss-covered oaks during funerals for veterans. The sermon in the final chapter is pure poetry--the kind I would want at my "final performance." Passed On should be read by anyone who has ever wondered about any aspect of the death industry or who has an interest in American history.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death: the closing act March 13 2002
By "clydedrake" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book has a very detailed description of the deathcare industry as it relates to African-Americans. Once you get past the emotional prologue that recounts the death of the author's son, you get a very engaging story of the funeral industry, the history of black deaths in the US, and the importance of community during times of bereavement. On the lighter side, there is discussion of "the show" associated with African-American funerals. The truth and insights in this discussion allowed me to relive my experience of going to rural southern funerals. It particularly reminded me of playing TAPS, hidden behind moss-covered oaks during funerals for veterans. The sermon in the final chapter is pure poetry--the kind I would want at my "final performance." Passed On should be read by anyone who has ever wondered about any aspect of the death industry or who has an interest in American history.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, eloquent Aug. 7 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book captures the reader and doesn't let go. The story of death and dying is itself fascinating...but the way in which she weaves the story of her son's death; the history of black funeral directors; and the incredible photos make this a must- read book.
All you want to know about death, dying, and burial...and all we must know about these African American traditions.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading June 15 2014
By So. Calif book reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Some of it was kind of political motivated but the majority was funeral history related and I found it a good read. I would love to find that Ebony magazine that had a section on black funerals from the 1950's. Very difficult to locate.
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful June 3 2014
By Gina Cabiddu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was much harsher than I expected. But them it was naive if me to think there wouldn't be discussion if the extreme violence that brings such powerful mourning stories as the title suggests. Enticing read and highly perspective changing.
1.0 out of 5 stars The other victim March 12 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I understand a mother's anguish over the death of a son, Bem Holloway, but I wish she had also described her grief for the pain he caused his victims. Her son held a young college girl hostage for 7 hours, raped her, choked her, and then stabbed her and left her to die. He was shot while trying to escape from prison, where he was serving a 95-year sentence. Surely that young girl is as much a victim as the Holloway family.
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