POV: Homegoings

POV: Homegoings

Mon, 02/17/2014 - 7:00pm

Pictured: Isaiah Owens visits his family cemetery in Branchville, South Carolina.

Credit: Courtesy of Marshall Stief

A South Carolina boy obsessed with funerals grows up to be a renowned funeral director in New York City's historic Harlem neighborhood. A thumbnail biographical sketch of Isaiah Owens might sound a little odd: The bigger picture, as captured in Homegoings, airing Monday, February 17, 2014 at 7 p.m. on WXXI World, shows an exceptionally warm-hearted, philosophical man who pursues his business with equal care for the living and for the dead. He combines instinctive sympathy for those who grieve with a deep knowledge of African-American funeral customs that aim to turn sorrow into an affirmation of faith that loved ones are going "home." Paradoxically, Owens' success reveals that this precious tradition, formed in a time of rigid segregation, is disappearing. Homegoings, a POV film, is the portrait of man with a rare passion and of the inspired, if threatened, African-American way of death.