Bynes-Royall Funeral Home Celebrates Being The Oldest Black Business In Savannah
Savannah, Georgia, is a historic city filled with a rich culture and a large Black community. The city is honoring and celebrating its oldest Black-owned business, the Bynes-Royall Funeral Home, as it remains a crucial part of its Black entrepreneurial sector.
Bynes-Royall is Savannah’s first business created by Black people, as confirmed by the Georgia Historical Society. According to WTOC and its digital series celebrating Black Business Month, the company has been around since the late 1800s, with its current owners taking over in the 1950s.
Its grounds have a landmark plaque detailing its history and significance to Savannah’s African American residents and entrepreneurs.
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“During the last years of Reconstruction, Maj. William Royall established the Royall Undertaking Company to serve African Americans denied mortuary services by Savannah’s White-owned funeral homes,” the historical marker states. “As a formal mortuary education was not available in the South until the early 20th century, Royall’s company trained many prominent Black funeral directors in the state through an apprenticeship program.”
The Bynes family were Brooklyn natives who bought the funeral home and moved to the Georgia city and added onto the name to maintain its history. The married couple, Frank and Frenchie Bynes, integrated their whole family into the business and the Savannah community as well.
The Bynes children spoke to the local news outlet about the values of determination and fearlessness instilled by their parents to become successful entrepreneurs, especially in an unfavorable era for Black business owners.
“But to be a Black business owner is so special because Black people have to do stuff a little extra harder to get where they are today,” shared one of the Bynes daughters.
“The proud moment of being a Black-owned business is that I can help everybody.”
As many of their children have become part of the operations, the ability to set their own entrepreneurial goals while working at Bynes-Royall is an opportunity they do not take for granted.
“Its freedom, its discipline, its consistency,” shared another member of the Bynes family.
“And for me, being able to start my business journey in this same building is…I can’t describe it.”