Writing obituaries is one of the cremation services offered in Bellingham, WA, but for many years, well-known newspapers like the New York Times barely acknowledged the deaths of famous African-Americans, while they would give famous white people who died a lot of space, usually on the front page of the paper.
African-Americans and their contributions to society and great accomplishments that benefit so many people are replete throughout the history of the United States. However, those contributions and accomplishments were seldom recounted in the obituary pages of American newspapers, because so many times the deaths of famous African-Americans were never reported at all.
The New York Times, which is read nationally, is renowned for its coverage of ingenious, famous, and talented people who have died. That is, if they were white. And male. The newspaper has decided to correct that clear historical bias and is now publishing the obituaries of notable African-Americans that they didn’t publish obituaries for at the time when they died.
And the newspaper has a wide scope for this project. Famous women, who deserved great obituaries when they died, but they didn’t get them, had obituaries published in the New York Times’ “Overlooked” series as it began.
It expanded the series in conjunction with Black History Month to include notable African-American men and women.
We’ve all seen death notices for African-Americans. These are paid notices that are given to newspapers by the funeral home. They include basic information, including survivors and funeral service details (most of us will be remembered with a death notice like this when we die).
However, newspapers traditionally write journalist obituaries that appear in a prominent place in the paper when someone who is notable dies. Women and African-Americans, in spite of prodigious achievements in every field, have traditionally been ignored in the journalistic obituary.
In many ways, this is a reflection of American culture, which, in the past, offered very limited opportunities to women and people of color. In other words, if you’re not a white man, it is a much harder road to fame and fortune.
However, in spite of these obstacles, these ignored groups of people prevailed and achieved great things and made significant impacts on every American life. Now they are getting the journalistic obituaries that are long overdue.
One obituary the New York Times has written is for ragtime composer Scott Joplin. His music was extraordinarily popular while Joplin was alive, and it is still very well known today. “The Entertainer,” the soundtrack for the popular 1970’s movie, The Sting, which starred Robert Redford and Paul Newman, was a Scott Joplin composition.
Despite his resounding success and wide popularity across America, when Joplin died in 1917, his death was not reported by New York Times. Other notable African-Americans who were overlooked the first time around by the New York Times include fashion designer Zelda Wynn Valdes, movie star Nina Mae McKinney, and bike racing champion Major Taylor.
The New York Times, in their effort to right history, has published almost 100 obituaries for women and people of color who did not have one line that reported their deaths when they actually died. They hope other newspapers will follow their lead and acknowledge the great people in America who worked hard to make it a better place for us all.
For additional information about obituaries and cremation services, our compassionate and experienced team at Moles Farewell Tributes & Cremations – Bayview Chapel is here to help. You can visit our funeral home at 2465 Lakeway Dr., Bellingham, WA 98229 or you can call us today at (360) 733-0510. We also serve the areas of Bellingham, Ferndale and Mount Vernon, WA.