Little Known Black History Fact: The Pallbearers of Lima, Peru

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    In Lima, Peru, there is a tradition among the rich and prominent to hire black pallbearers for family funerals. The presence of black pallbearers signifies wealth in the country. Wearing tuxedos and white gloves, the pallbearers make about $5 per funeral and around $70 a week.

    The practice started in Spain during colonial times when slaves would carry the coffin and some would also follow the caskets. Slaves also accompanied their masters to church. While the job of pallberarer is not forced upon the black communities today, the racist practices of the city forces the dark-skinned Peruvians to take the more undesirable jobs. Those out of work, with criminal histories or simply lacking opportunity look toward the contractor pallbearer position as a means to stay employed. Most recently, black pallbearers were request for the wife of former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar.

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