From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States. Of these people that were lynched 3,446 were black (72%). The majority occuring in the south (79%).

Ashes to Ashes

Homegoing Celebration for the Unburied

"Ashes to Ashes" are the final words in typical African American funeral services. Many of those who were murdered by the Klan to maintain the reign of white supremacy never received their Ashes to Ashes . The goal of this project by Dr. Shirley Jackson Whitaker is to acknowledge and mourn the African Americans who were racially terrorized during the Jim Crow era after the Civil War and until this very day. Some endured lynching and other forms of brutalization and therefore, they never received a proper burial. The first Home-Going Celebration of thousands of African Americans was On April 30, 2017. Are you ready?

As Dr. John Bracey, Chairman of African American Studies at UMASS said, "what took us so long?"

We will collaborate with the department of African American studies at UMASS to provide educational information to the schools to strengthen their understanding of the project and to foster more knowledge of the history of slavery in America and its aftermath.


Are you ready?

Lament, listen and learn truths about the history of slavery in America. Ashes2Ashes was created to be a real memorial (funeral) service for over 3,000 documented lynchings in America from 1877 – 1950.

It's hard to believe, too many lives lost, too many families ripped to shreds and no proper burial.

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Shirley Jackson Whitaker, MD

Dr. Whitaker is a kidney specialist who delivers her messages on health over the radio airways, at church functions, at public fundraising events and even through her own artwork. Growing up in South Georgia, she was taught early on, the importance of being sensitive and caring towards others.

Taking all of her experiences from her love of medicine, art and people she created the Ashes to Ashes program that will provide for a real memorial (funeral) service for the over 2 million lost during the Middle Passages, and the 3,999 documented lynchings that took place in America from 1877 – 1950.

As Dr. John Bracey, Chairman of African American Studies at UMASS said, "what took us so long?"


  • Abe O'Neal

  • Alfred Shafford

  • Allen West

  • Garfield McCoy

  • "Pink" Willis

  • Charles Bealle

  • Charles Jennings

  • Robert Ethridge

  • Frank Wigfall

  • Charles Mitchell

  • Seymour Neville

  • "Doc" King

  • Albert Gooden

  • Alexander Bell

  • Patrick Crump

  • Robert Lewis

  • Alonzo Fisher

  • Austin Porter

  • Ulyssess Nalls

  • Virgil Jones

  • Willis Griffey

  • William Stokes

The Ashes to Ashes ceremony and service will be conducted in three parts.

The Ashes to Ashes ceremony will serve as the voice of countless African Americans that’ve fallen victim to the brutality of lynching who often never receiving a proper burial. To attend these ceremonies, please read and accept the conditions for attendance and register.

  • Pre-funeral

    The Awakening
    Saturday, April 29, 2017 / 8 PM EDT
    Laura Nelson | Black Woman Lynched

    The night before a funeral, it is the custom of most families to have a vigil of remembrance called “A Wake”. For the thousands of African Americans that have lynched and terrorized, there will be an “Awakening and Illuminations” service. It will be a time dedicate to awakening our hearts and illuminating our minds towards the true meaning and purpose of “Ashes to Ashes”.

  • Funeral Service

    Sunday, April 30, 2017 / 11 AM EDT
    St. John Legacy Church
    Black Draft Horses | Pulling Hearse

    This service will be similar to a real funeral. It will consist of a wooden pine casket made by local students at Putnam High School Academy under the guidance of David Stevens. His plan is to use tools from the turn of the century. History teachers will stress the educational components of the project and photography classes will document the making of the casket. There will be a funeral procession from STCC in Springfield to the St. John Legacy Church where the service will be held.
    St. John's Congregational Church | The Legacy
    The day of the homegoing service, Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, will deliver the eulogy and Mr. Avery Sharpe, an international bass player will premier a musical piece for his uncle who was placed on a railroad track because he was dating a white woman. The day will be celebrated with music and vignettes to honor our forgotten ancestors.

  • Documentary

    Ashes to Ashes Video
    Avery Sharpe | Music

    The production company, Rees Film LLC of Massachusetts and Utah has started documenting “Ashes to Ashes”. This is in keeping with the opinion of Dr. Joan Braderman, Film Professor, Hampshire College and others that the documentation of this historic event is imperative.

Lynched, burned alive, mutilated, tarred and feathered but never received a respectful burial not even a prayer.

No more Hiding

I completed this painting for the Ashes to Ashes” services on April 29-30, 2017 and it was suggested that I should hide it away forever because it depicted the Klan. The idea of Klan and their savagery against African Americans is still very painful to remember and many would like for it to forgotten. I decided that would never be. Too long we have hidden what had happened to African Americans as the result of American’s domestic terrorist. Not only will I bring out the painting from hiding but I will also make prints, which I will make available for purchase. Then, I will use the funds to help with the documentary underway by Rhee Productions about “Ashes to Ashes” to make sure we never forget. We cannot heal this country unless we are ready to acknowledge its history both good and bad. We will start now with “Ashes to Ashes”! May the healing begin?

Please share #nowhitehoodsinthewhitehouse and #neverforget on Twitter and Share on Facebook to start the healing.

Dr. Whitaker was the art protege of one of American's leading artists, the late Leonard Baskin.


Anti-lynching plays and poems were read aloud in homes and churches from 1890 to 1930 to counter the racial terrorism that was at its peak. Please take the overlooked aspect of African American literary history and present it in your home with your family and friends to celebrate our ancestors and ourselves and to get ready for “Ashes to Ashes”.

The following samples of poems and anti-lynching plays you can consider for your event or find more online.

You can help Ashes to Ashes by volunteering your time or resources.

Donna-Marie Peters, Faculty Fellow, Assistant Professor, Sociology, College of Liberal Arts, Temple University:
"Our ancestors are calling."


We love to listen and we are eagerly waiting to talk to you regarding the Ashes to Ashes program. Get in touch with us if you have any queries and we will get back to you. For your convenience you may also call (413) 461-0587