Jumping the Broom: The African-American Wedding Planner

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9780805021431: Jumping the Broom: The African-American Wedding Planner

Jumping the Broom presents hundreds of original ideas for enhancing your wedding with Afrocentric touches at every stage.

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About the Author:

Harriette Cole spent eleven years as an editor at Essence magazine before founding Profundities, Inc., an image-development and production company. Her nationally syndicated advice column, “Sense & Sensitivity,” reaches more than twelve million readers, and her advice about African American weddings has been featured on Oprah, the Today Show, and NPR. She counts among her clients Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, and Erykah Badu. She lives in New York City.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The following text talks about the tradition of Jumping the Broom.

RITUAL ON THESE SHORES

In America customs among people of color had to be re-created. When West Africans were brought forcibly to these shores some four hundred years ago they were stripped of much of what was theirs -- their homeland, their community structure, their freedom, even, in some cases, their sometimes sexist ways. Not long after the beginning of slavery, Africans were also denied the right to marry in the eyes of the law. Slaveholders apparently thought that their captives were not real people but were, instead, property to be bought and sold. As such, they had no rights. Further, if allowed formally to marry and live together, slaves might find strength in numbers that could lead to revolt. Adding to their trauma, these early friends to white settlers were quickly and brutally forbidden by law to marry their white counterparts -- a situation that remains a sore spot for interracial couples today.

Yet the enslaved were spiritual people who had been taught rituals that began as early as childhood to prepare them for that big step into family life. How could they succumb to this denial?

They could not. So they became inventive. Out of their creativity came the tradition of jumping the broom. The broom itself held spiritual significance for many African peoples, representing the beginning of homemaking for a couple. For the Kgatla people of southern Africa, it was customary, for example, on the day after the wedding for the bride to help the other women in the family to sweep the courtyard clean, thereby symbolizing her willingness and obligation to assist in housework at her in-laws' residence until the couple moved to their own home. During slavery, to the ever-present beat of the talking drum (until drums too were outlawed, since they were considered a dangerous means of communication), a couple would literally jump over a broom into the seat of matrimony. Today, this tradition and many others are finding their way back into the wedding ceremony.

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Cole, Harriette
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