Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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Realizing the dream: Diamante Jackson

After+a+long+day+Diamante+Jackson+organizes+his+office+desk.+His+office+is+located+at+Southern+Cremation+And+Burial+Service+in+Murphysboro%2C+IL.+February+20th%2C+2024%0A
Simeon Hardley
After a long day Diamante Jackson organizes his office desk. His office is located at Southern Cremation And Burial Service in Murphysboro, IL. February 20th, 2024

As a young person and a Black man, Diamante Jackson said he’s faced his fair share of obstacles finding his way in the funeral industry.

“When you’re coming up in business, funeral homes have been and still are segregated today,” Jackson said. “And a lot of folks, they don’t want to help you come up in the funeral business. You know, it’s almost like a thing where every man is for himself.” 

At age 12, when other kids spent Saturday mornings riding bikes and watching cartoons, Jackson went to work helping his godfather at the funeral home on the northeast side of Carbondale.

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He started off washing the funeral home’s fleet of hearses and then moved on to more important tasks, placing flags and eventually directing traffic during services. A few years later, he learned the process of embalming or preserving a body after death. 

The more time he spent around the funeral home, the more intrigued he became with the business. Before he was even old enough to drive a car, Jackson knew that he would eventually make a career of his own as an undertaker, helping to shepherd people to their final resting place and comforting grieving families in the process.

At 26, he’s realizing his dream as the owner of Southern Cremation and Burial Services, which opened in 2023 at its current location in Murphysboro, a small town about seven miles west of Carbondale. 

Jackson graduated from Carbondale High School in 2015, and after one semester at John A. Logan College was accepted into the Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Services in Atlanta, Georgia. 

While attending school, he worked at the highly respected Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home, known for attending to many state elected officials and governors in burial services in Georgia. Working closely alongside the owner, Jackson learned new techniques and skills that continue to serve him today. 

He graduated in 2017 and moved back to Carbondale a few years later. Back in his hometown, he worked alongside another respected funeral home director, Alvin E. Childress, learning and gaining more experience and knowledge along the way. 

A few years later, he decided he was ready to go out on his own. 

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“I decided that I would start my own business in 2020 from a notebook and a prayer, and I still have the same notebook that I took notes on,” Jackson said. 

It’s a job that keeps him on call around the clock.

“You never know when you’ll get a death call, and when you get that death call, you have to be ready to roll,” Jackson said.

He credits much of his success to friends.

“When you step out you’re on your own, nobody’s there to really help you unless you have a good friend that you can call on,” he said, “and I’m grateful that I do have a couple of good friends that I can call on from the business, you know, that will help me if I need it.” 

Jackson started his business in 2020 during the peak of COVID-19. But it was another three years before he could acquire a physical location for his business. 

The services Jackson offers, and the tradition he instills in them, are unlike those offered by any other funeral home in Southern Illinois. Taking inspiration from his days working in Atlanta, and his own unique vision, Jackson offers visually beautiful services that include horse-drawn carriages, which carry the deceased to their final resting place, a sign of respect and honor. 

Beyond all of the special touches, one of the most important things he offers families is a steady hand and a leader’s heart. 

“Leadership is one of my main key factors and in leadership, you have to be able to not only be a leader, but you’ve got to be willing to listen to others … show empathy … listen to all their needs, and provide them with that,” Jackson said of working with people who have recently lost family and friends.

Jackson, who spent time in his youth in Cairo before moving to Carbondale, is a member of the National and State Funeral Directors Association, the Kentucky State Board Of Funeral Service, the Spirit Of Attucks, and the Murphysboro Chamber Of Commerce. He is a licensed funeral home director in Illinois and Kentucky.

He’s also a father, and he hopes that he can one day pass his business on to his children.

“I’d like it to be for generations and generations to come,” he said, “for my children, and grandchildren to continue my legacy and take it to the next level.”

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