There was no mourning at this funeral.
Hundreds of onlookers cheered Monday afternoon as the NAACP put to rest a long-standing expression of racism by holding a public burial for the N-word during its annual convention.
The ceremony included a march by delegates from across the country from downtown Detroit’s Cobo Center to Hart Plaza. Along the way, two Percheron horses pulled a pine box adorned with a bouquet of fake black roses.
The coffin will be placed at Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery and will have a headstone.
“Today we’re not just burying the N-word, we’re taking it out of our spirit,” said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. “We gather burying all the things that go with the N-word. We have to bury the ’pimps’ and the ’hos’ that go with it.”
He continued: “Die, N-word, and we don’t want to see you ’round here no more.”
Pastor: Greatest child racism birthed
The N-word has been used as a slur against blacks for more than a century. It remains a symbol of racism, but also is used by blacks when referring to other blacks, especially in comedy routines and rap and hip-hop music.
“This was the greatest child that racism ever birthed,” the Rev. Otis Moss III, assistant pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, said in his eulogy.
Public discussion on the word’s use increased last year following a tirade by “Seinfeld” actor Michael Richards, who used it repeatedly during a Los Angeles comedy routine and later issued a public apology.
Imus issue at forefront
The issue of racially insensitive remarks intensified again this year after talk show host Don Imus described black members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” on April 4.
NAACP National Board Chairman Julian Bond cited Imus Sunday during the opening address of the 98th annual convention, which runs through Thursday.
“While we are happy to have sent a certain radio cowboy back to his ranch, we ought to hold ourselves to the same standard,” Bond said. “If he can’t refer to our women as ‘hos,’ then we shouldn’t either.”
Black leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, have challenged the entertainment industry and the American public to stop using the N-word and other racial slurs.
The NAACP held a symbolic funeral in Detroit in 1944 for Jim Crow, the systematic, mostly Southern practice of discrimination against and segregation of blacks from the end of post-Civil War Reconstruction into the mid-20th century.