When most of us think of funeral homes and the business of funerals overall, preserving life may not be the first thought coming to mind. The recent ‘Scared Stiff’ citywide rally in Nashville did just that, though. Plans for a national push is in the works. Life and the sanctity of preserving life were honored, along with the importance of life on earth.
‘Scared Stiff’ is the brainchild of Michelle Gant Curtis, founder/president, and was created and brought to life to raise positive awareness calling for an end to senseless killings everywhere. On a hot Sunday afternoon, a long line of funeral directors, morticians and funeral industry professionals came together under the director of Gant-Curtis for a rally to remember. Her organizational motto: ‘Scared Stiff—Live in Peace or Rest in Peace’ says it all.
Everything needed for a well organized funeral procession (minus a deceased body) was on hand that day to drive a point home. The procession wound along a skillfully charted path covering all of Nashville’s housing projects, several community centers and other focal points where crowds or patches of people were found. With sirens blaring, the procession rolled through town with honking horns. There were waves of support and cheering crowds (curious or not) lining the streets. The mission was clear by the sight and colorful signs attached to the parade vehicles.
It was indeed a different twist for all the busy funeral homes and industry professionals who gave their time and resources for this day. They included: First Call Removal Services; Foston; Highland Hills; J.C. Hellum; John P. Franklin; Patton Brothers, SAG, Madison; New Generation; Waters; T.S. Removal Services; Scales; Smith Brothers; V.K. Ryan & Sons; Lewis & Wright, and Funeral Homes, and 100 Black Women of Funeral Serrvices, Elleanor Davis Starks.
“I’m very proud of our 100BWFS member land organizer for the hard work done by her committee to bring relevance to Stop the Violence that is impacting cities around the nation,” said Starks. “It is our wish that this mock funeral procession will arise awareness that death affects all of us and we must do our part to stop it and educate our youth and others that we must choose peace—or their last ride may be around the corner.”
The initial rally took place in Nashville, but the support was widely received from industry professionals, politicians, PR and media professionals and other businesses, locally and in other parts of the nation, including National Funeral Directors & Morticians), past President Jayme Jeter Cameron.
“As professional and business leaders in the death care industry are fully aware, we are in the business to bury the dead,” daid Cameon. “However, it is heart wrenching when we have to bury our youth, our future and our children in our communities due to bullying and senseless violence.”
Before the procession rolled, a kick off ceremony took place at First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill. Dr. Kelly Miller Smith, senior pastor. The event was well supported by the Mayor Megan Barry); five star sound and production equipment from Chatman Productions’ Victor Chatman; Mose Jobe, videographer; Mrs. Margo Dangerfield, secretary treasurer; Seretha Nobbin, PR professional and photographer; Gary Dennis, Alphonso Woodland; McKinley Joyce of Special Security and Escort Services; Soul Seekers Motorcycle Ministry, Larry Walton; and C&L Escort Services. Special thanks were also conveyed to Howard Gentry, Nashville Criminal Clerk Court; Nashville’s own ‘Gospel Diva Lady Connie Dennell; Rev. Frank Stevenson; Rev. Melvin J. Curtis, Jr. of Edenwold Missionary Baptist Church; and Rev. James C. Turner II of New Hope Baptist Church.
Out of town guests included: John ‘Duke’ Franklin of John P. Franklin Funeral Home, Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Hall Davis, National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association (NFMDA—the oldest, honored and esteemed African American Funeral Organization in the country).
Words from Mayor Barry’s office were provided by Ron Thompson, her office’s Community Engagement Liaison. The torrid heat did not matter and at the end of the day, as everyone involved agreed it was time well spent.
The ‘Scared Stiff Live in Peace or Die in Peace’ motto is more than a set of words strewn together. It’s a statement of hard cold fact.
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