PBS Premiere: June 24, 2013Check the broadcast schedule »

In Context

During the era of the transatlantic slave trade, many African slaves in the United States thought of death as a reprieve. It was commonly held that dying meant one's soul would be emancipated and would then return home to ancestral Africa in a "homegoing." While the phrase "homegoing" is more commonly used in the African-American community today to mean a passing to the afterlife, death still carries a special spiritual significance in African-American culture and is often perceived as a transition rather than a final destination.

Caption: Isaiah Owens returns to his hometown of Branchville, South Carolina.
Credit: Marshall Stief