My pathway to funeral service was tortuous but bound to happen as I was affected by many African-American funeral directors in the civil rights movement. In my library on the first shelf is ‘A Testament of Hope, the Essential Writings of ML King, Jr. It is my favorite book to read when I need inspiration.
Funeral Directors, ministers, Attorneys, and Physicians always seem to be at the forefront of the civil rights movement. The Detroit Walk to Freedom in March of 1963 was led by these important people with Dr. King to help our mission for equality with Benjamin McFall, a funeral director, in the front.
Thus, as a child I was torn between growing up to be a research scientist or a mortician. Turns out I am both, but the calling of funeral service is to me more rewarding when you serve your entire community. At their lowest point in life. The skills and comportment to perform services takes a special giving, loving and patient spirit to help relieve the burden of death.
Today more than ever I must help those who are left behind, low in spirit and tell them that no low point in life can defeat the love of Jesus Christ.
Our testament of hope can start with you, one step at time leading others to a better position and lot in life. Your political party, economic standing, imperfections, and community pressures should not detract you from leading by example, treating others with love when they hate you.
Christ lead by example, those men and women of funeral service in the civil rights era sacrificed their lives to lead us to a better place. The Montgomery bus boycott; funeral directors loaned their vehicles to drive those who boycotted to stores, churches and other areas.
In an effort to prevent murders in our own community. Lehman E Black my mother’s cousin and mentor to me as a small child was such a respected man in the Community. His stature and kindness to everyone made a huge impression on me as a child. Even today I keep a photo of him and his wife in my desk for inspiration.
What is your testament of hope?
I encourage you to find one and lead by example in your family and community!
By Stephen R. Kemp, CFSP
President & CEO