Now 120 Years Old, This Black-Owned Funeral Home Will Probably Never Die

James E. Jefferson, Jr., owner and funeral director at W. H. Jefferson Funeral Home
James E. Jefferson, Jr., owner and funeral director at W. H. Jefferson Funeral Home

Launched in the year 1894, W. H. Jefferson Funeral Home, a multi-generational Black-owned business in Vicksburg, MS, has served the local community for well over 100 years. The original founders were William and Lucy Jefferson, and William was actually the first African-American funeral director in the state of Mississippi. After they died, the business was passed down to other family members who still run the business today!
Their secret to success

Their secret to success is always catering to their customers' needs, and being "fair, honest and compassionate". Their funeral services can be personalized in many ways. For example, families may choose to include special memorabilia, pictures, art objects, or hobby items. Favorite music of all types, even vehicles or special places can also be a part of the service.

They pride themselves in listening carefully to the wishes of a family, and from that conversation they help fashion a service that is fitting and personal. Over the years, they have found that the following service options have provided a suitable starting place: Evening visitations at the funeral home, next day and even same day funeral ceremonies, and a procession to the cemetery with a graveside committal service.

Keeping the business alive

The business is currently run by the founders' grandson, James E. Jefferson, Jr., who says that he grew up around the business. He told the Philly Tribune, “I’ve been here all my life. I probably saw my first body when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was a homicide. The police were down here. Mom couldn’t leave me in the house, so she brought me with her. I didn’t go in the morgue, but I saw them roll him in.”

Now that he is older and running the family business as owner and a licensed funeral director, he says operating a funeral home is a 24/7, 365 days a year business. He adds, “Some of the saddest calls are the ones you make on the holidays or right before. I’ve actually on Christmas day had to go pick up people.”

Despite this though, he says he thoroughly enjoys his work, as it gives him an opportunity to help and comfort people... and be there for them.

For more details about W. H. Jefferson Funeral Home, visit

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