Elizabeth T. Braden’s life was no more and no less significant than that of Ossie Davis’. According to her obituary, by the age of 91 Braden had been a daughter, wife, mother, secretary, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend and neighbor. Her obituary says she was married for 68 years and had six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. According to the Sun, the Baltimore area resident died of a brain tumor in the assisted-living home where she lived. Braden’s Baltimore Sun obituary has reduced her 91 years of life, relationships, obstacles, joys and sorrows into 20 lines.
Both Baltimore Sun articles painted sketches of the lives of the deceased; as obituaries they fulfilled their roles as assigned by the media. The attention given to both Braden and Davis may be what is expected for someone with their varying degrees of contribution to society. If that is so, there is something wrong with the way we measure contribution. This problem does not merely exist in the Baltimore Sun.
Fred Barbash and Wil Haygood wrote Ossie Davis’ obituary for the Washington Post. Describing him as “still handsome and elegant” it was a colorful tribute to his life. Their four-page article was filled with information about Davis’ personal achievements; statements from his family, friends and colleagues and commentary on his activism efforts. While there were no pictures or polls, his obituary painted a picture of a vibrant man, someone you would be honored to have known personally.
Yvonne Battle-Felton, Editor-in-chief, Nemesis (North Eastern Memorial Editorial Services)
P.S. Pick up the next issue of Nemesis; you never know which edition you’ll be featured in.