Hearses in B-CU parade part of national campaign against crime
BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Gainous Funeral Home had no ordinary float in the annual Bethune-Cookman University Homecoming Parade on Saturday. There were no banners, no shiny decorations, no bells, no whistles. The black and white hearse made its way down Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard with signs on either side stating: “Stop the Violence Now: Funeral Directors Against Violence.”
Alexander C. Wynn, III, owner of the funeral home and national vice president of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, took a stand against violence that he says leads to the death of young Blacks all too often.
“This is something that we’ve been doing throughout the states,” Wynn said. States across the nation are holding annual “Parade of Hearses” to seek an end to violence.
Recently in North Carolina, 33 hearses lined the streets of Durham N.C. representing the 33 murders that occurred in the region.
“We’re trying to bring it to Florida too,” Wynn shared with the Daytona Times. “Normally what we do, we have all the different funeral homes bring out their funeral coaches. In Atlanta, we had 28 funeral homes participate. We did the same thing in Virginia and New Orleans. We’ve been working on it, because you see at the end result, we are the ones that deal with them (the deceased).”
“A lot of them are young people. Young African-Americans. So many of our young people are involved,” Wynn continued. “I decided to use my sign (from previous events) at the Homecoming parade.”
Mom, others march
Jennifer Cord, a mother suffering the loss of a child, also participated in the parade. As previously reported in the Times, Cord’s son, 23-year old Rayshard L. Mitchell, was shot and killed in December 2012. His case remains unsolved.
Cord pleaded for an end to violence as she and 25 marchers chanted “Save our streets. Save our streets.”
Additionally, Anthony Abrams, owner of Doghouse Bail Bonds, also took a stand against violence during the parade. As his bright yellow van moved along the route, Caleb, a 10-year-old he mentors, walked behind the van.
Caleb pushed an industrial size garbage can while outfitted in a janitorial-styled jumpsuit and head hung low. He was showing kids his age and adults alike that there was more to life than what his character had become. Several times during the parade, Caleb would break out of the sad state to perform a Michael Jackson skit.
“Stemming from working in law enforcement, guys would see me in uniform and I wasn’t able to really speak to them because they just see that person in that uniform,” Abrams said in an interview. “Now seeing them after they are arrested, once they are out, I’m able to talk to them and hopefully I won’t see them again.”
The “stop the violence” theme is gaining momentum nationally as young people, mostly Black males, are seen time and time again as the subject of violent crime in the streets and on the news.
Tyrone Muhammad, a licensed funeral director in New Jersey, went viral on YouTube as he talked about violence in the African-American community.
“Real is when your mother is before me, real is when your family can’t pay for your funeral, real is when I have to patch up those bullet wounds on you,” he said seated in front of an open casket. “I’m sick of it man. Ain’t no outcry, ain’t nobody fed up, ain’t nobody caring about you.
Yo homies don’t give a damn about you. Yeah they are homies on the street but when it’s time to come to pay that bill, ain’t nobody in here with yo Mama. Yo mother in here by herself putting her little pennies, her nickels and her dimes, her hard-earned dollars to put you at rest over some foolishness. Think it over man.”
“End of the day, when they put you in that ground… after they eat that chicken, drink that Hennessey and smoke that weed, then it’s on to the next,” he added.