"White folks don’t have funerals"

The funeral of Booker T. Washington, a prominent African American Civil Rights leader
Public DomainThe funeral of Booker T. Washington, a prominent African American Civil Rights leader - Credit: Library of Congress

Though Caddy’s remark is based on her limited understanding of mortality, it is true that black funerals tended to be more ostentatious than their white counterparts. Despite the poverty in which most African Americans lived, their death rites were lavish affairs and required much planning. This was a hangover from the times of slavery when death represented the only means of gaining freedom, making funerals occasions on which to affirm faith as well as to express collective anguish.