Because I work in a hospital and it is what it is, and SOMETIMES I talk about death because my friends are weirdos and ask for facts about people’s death anniversaries and I will oblige my friends because I AM ALSO A WEIRDO, and sometimes I talk about death because I’m black* and black people like to know stuff about dead folks. Like for instance “Who all going? (this really does apply to just about any gathering)” and “Who did the body?” Important questions ‘cause after all you don’t wanna be scaring people on your way home do you? Oh. Also, funerals are sometimes called homegoings. Because you’re going HOME. AND. Since I guess I’m tellin’ y’all stuff that if you’ve been paying any kind of attention to Black people at all these last few years you woulda noticed, when beloved celebrities pass, WE LOVE A GOOD HOMEGOING SERVICE. Like. LOVE. When Aretha Franklin had her homegoing, it was broadcast on several channels and of COURSE I WAS AT WORK BECAUSE AREN’T I ALWAYS?! But please believe I really did sit here at work and watch an EIGHT. HOUR. SERVICE. I am a multitasking mother fucker. And I know I was not alone because The Brat was also watching from work. And texting me. I watched people show up in their finery and big hats ‘cause old church ladies LOVE a big church hat.

But the service was eight hours and so at some point I had to break for lunch and since outside was open back then, I WENT to lunch and prayed that if they were gonna sing Eye On the Sparrow it was gonna be while I was at lunch, because I woulda been laid out at work and issa bad look when you’re supposed to be a Professional At Work™. Luckily/unluckily, it was 2018 and the internet is forever so even if I missed something super important I coulda just googled it up online because that IS what the internet is for (not for the other thing). Can you imagine the olden days of having to videotape things? Setting your VCR, making sure you had enough tape to get the whole damn thing, which how could you have because WTF thought anybody would have an EIGHT. HOUR. FUNERAL?!

I certainly woulda missed taping at least some of it. But I am not today’s BHFOTD, Marion Stokes, a Philadelphia access television producer, civil rights demonstrator, activist, librarian and prolific archivist, who amassed hundreds of thousands of hours of TV news footage spanning 35 years – from 1977 until her death at age 83.

She was convinced that there was a lot of detail in the news at risk of disappearing forever (and she was right ‘cause networks had been disposing their archives for decades), and so she began recording television 24 hours a day. The collection consisted of 24/7 coverage of MSNBC, C-SPAN, CNBC, CNN and Fox. (Do you remember the time when Fox had actual news on it?) It was recorded on 8 separate VCRs all over her house. She and her entire family planned outings around the length of a VHS tape, including cutting  short so they could make it home to switch out tapes every six hours. So I guess she woulda had to book it back home for Ms. ‘Retha’s homegoing too.

It started in 1979 with the Iranian Hostage Crisis, which was the beginning of the 24 hour news cycle and ended December 14, 2012 while the Sandy Hook massacre played on TV as Marion passed on. All told she’d recorded 40,000 plus VHS/Betamax that were stacked in her home and apartments she’d rented just to store them. Her collection was donated to the Internet Archive on year after her death. It was the largest collection they had ever received. I feel like there’s a joke in there somewhere but also I feel like it’s probably inappropriate to make but also CIRCLE OF LIFE.

ANYWAY. That’s it folks! That’s all the facts I got for you next week. See you on Tuesday because while USUALLY I’m at work, I took a day off  ‘cause  I DO WHAT I WANT. Stay tuned for week three of BLACK PEOPLE DID WHAT?! Have a good weekend. Don’t forget to tip your server on your way out!