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AP reports on communities suffering loss of Black morticians

Mortician Shawn Troy stands at the grave of his father, William Penn Troy Sr., at Hillcrest Cemetery outside Mullins, S.C., on Sunday, May 23, 2021. The elder Troy, who developed the cemetery, died of COVID-19 in August 2020, one of many Black funeral directors to succumb during the pandemic. “I don’t think I’ll ever get over it,” he said. “But I’ll get through it.” (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)


Global enterprise team reporter Adam Geller and his multiformat colleague Allen Breed teamed up to chronicle the toll the pandemic has taken on Black funeral directors in the U.S. Some 130 Black morticians have died since the onset of COVID-19, leaving holes not just in their families but in their communities, where they have long played a prominent role. Often admired for their success in business, a number have been elected to political office, served as local power brokers and helped fund civil rights efforts.

Geller interviewed the families of Black morticians who died,and Breed shot emotional video and photos of Mullins,South Carolina,funeral director Shawn Troy, who suddenly finds himself trying to fill his father’s shoes. The result is a powerful look at a unique toll that COVID has taken in many Black communities.

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