Part II: The history of African American death
Please Note: This article is continued from the edition published Oct. 26, 2017 that details various traditions of blacks when dealing with death.
All of the cars following in the (funeral) procession place purple flags upon their antennas and drive with the car head lights on to identify themselves as members of the funeral procession.
Once the cemetery is reached, many traditions (or superstitions) are followed concerning the actual burial of the dead. It is believed that it is important that the dead be buried feet facing east; to allow rising at Judgment Day. Otherwise the person remains in the crossways of the world.
Coins are placed on the eyes of the dead to keep them closed. However, coins were also sometimes placed in the hands as the deceased person's contribution to the community of the ancestors – or perhaps, as a token for admittance to the spirit world.
For the same purpose, coins are also placed on or around the gravesite. It is believed that one should always cover the body and one should never place it directly in the ground.
All of these traditions may not be practiced by every African American family, but many of them were and still are believed to this day.
PLEASE NOTE: This article has been edited fro brevity and clarity.
Tradition of coins left on the grave