Not everybody will welcome the thought of going to an open-casket funeral. When the casket is open, the body will be dressed and made up to give it a life-like appearance. It may give some a great source of comfort while to others it may be uncomfortable. Just like these black stars who have been displayed in open-caskets after their deaths. This practice actually used to be a lot more common than it is today. Famous people from Martin Luther King to Michael Jackson had an open-casket funeral to give the grieving public a chance to say their last goodbye. Here are the 12
Open-Casket Funerals of Famous Black People.
James Joseph Brown, the singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer and bandleader was the founding father of funk music. He is a major figure of 20th-century popular music and dance and is often referred to as the “Godfather of Soul”. From the start of his career in the 1950’s to his death in 2006 from congestive heart failure, he continued to perform and record music. During the Godfather of Soul’s open-casket funeral, Michael Jackson reportedly bent down and kissed him to say goodbye.
Ramarley Graham’s shooting is one of the many that made headlines after the Black Lives Matter movement drew attention to the deaths of young men for being arrested for minor offenses. Richard Haste, the New York Police Department officer shot Graham, who had a prior criminal record stemming from gun and burglary charges, in the bathroom of Graham’s apartment. The officer claimed that Graham had been reaching for a gun in his waistband, but there were no witnesses. Haste was charged with manslaughter but was dropped. Graham’s family filed a lawsuit against the city of New York, and the lawsuit was settled for $3.9 million in 2015.
Darrent Demarcus Williams is an American football player for the Denver Broncos. He was a second-round draft pick by the Broncos in 2005. Sadly, his career was cut short when he was killed in a drive-by shooting the day after he finished his second season with the Broncos. It was New Year’s Day. His 7-year-old son cried inconsolably when he viewed his father’s body.
Eleanora Fagan or professionally known as Billie Holiday is a jazz musician and singer-songwriter with a career spanning nearly three decades. She had a successful mainstream career but was beset with legal troubles and drug abuse. Due to her drug and alcohol problems, her reputation deteriorated. Holiday died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1959. The jazz singer’s open-casket funeral was held at Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City.
The American football wide receiver played for the Cincinnati Bengals. He played college football at West Virginia and was drafted by the Bengals in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Henry was convicted of several criminal charges and was briefly suspended by the NFL. He died at the age of 26 after falling out from a pickup truck driven by his fiancee. Post-death investigation revealed that Henry had developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy during his playing career due to multiple hard hits to the head. During his open-casket funeral, his daughter laid a token of remembrance in his coffin.
Born Malcolm Little and later known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist. He is called as one of the greatest and most influential African-Americans in history. After his parole, he became the leader of the Nation of Islam and served as the public face of the controversial group for a dozen years. By March 1964, Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the group and its leader Elijah Muhammad. Expressing many regrets about his time with them and embraced Sunni Islam. In February 1965, he was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam obtaining 21 gunshots.
Riley B. King or professionally known as B.B. King is a legendary blues singer, electric guitarist, songwriter and record producer. King introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending that influenced many later electric blues guitarists. King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of the Blues”, and one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar”. He died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 14, 2015, from congestive heart failure and diabetes complications.
The legendary singer, songwriter and musician helped shape the sound of Motown in 1960’s and later earned the titles “Prince of Motown” and “Prince of Soul”. He developed a love of singing at an early age and was encouraged to pursue a professional music career after a performance at a school play. But as a young boy until into his teens, his father beat him often for any shortcoming. He felt that had his mother not consoled him and encouraged his singing, he would have killed himself. Gaye was tragically shot by his father after an argument in their home. His funeral was attended by 10,000 people including Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder.
Bernard Jeffrey McCullough or better known as Bernie Mac is a stand-up comedian, actor, and voice artist. He was born and raised on Chicago’s south side and gained popularity as a stand-up comedian. He joined fellow comedians Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and D. L. Hughley in The Original Kings of Comedy. The Emmy-winning comedian died of complications from pneumonia in 2008. He was battling a chronic lung disease called sarcoidosis and passed away at 51-years-old.
She was the only daughter of singers Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston. Her parents’ fame kept her in the public eye, including her appearances on the reality show Being Bobby Brown. Bobbi Kristina was 14 when her parents divorced and Houston gained custody. When Houston died in February 2012, Brown was named as the sole beneficiary of her mother’s estate. She tragically died at the age of 22 and had an open-casket funeral but the photos leaked were illicitly-obtained images so it was decided not to be published. She had struggled after her mom’s death in 2012 and was found unresponsive in a bathtub in early 2015. She died after several months in a medically-induced coma.
The singer, actress, producer and model extraordinaire is the most awarded female act of all time and is one of pop music’s best-selling music artists of all-time. During her funeral, the tabloid National Enquirer published a photo of Whitney Houston in her casket on the front cover of one of their issues. It was obtained unlawfully from one of the funeral staff. Their action was widely despised but it also resulted in one of their bestselling issues.
The iconic singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer and actor is a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. The King of Pop also had a huge influence in fashion. He is the eighth child of the Jackson family and made his professional debut as a member of the Jackson 5. He began his solo career in 1971 and the rest is history. It was reported that he liked James Brown’s $25,000 casket so much that he ordered one for himself and was buried in it
after his untimely death in 2009.
These famous people’s death had the whole world mourning for their loss. Some died peacefully while others died tragically. Supporters flocked to their funeral to bid goodbye and pay their final respect. Seeing them lifeless in a coffin is eerie enough but to see them in an open-casket lifeless but looking very much alive may be more eerie to some. But having an open-casket funeral gives one a final glimpse of the deceased before he goes to his final resting place. May they all rest in peace.