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Jumping the Broom
The Chicago couple, Arthur Haynes and Loren Jones, tied the knot in 2019. Haynes said the decision of "Jumping the Broom" at their wedding was a no-brainer.
"There was a bit of debate about what all we would do at the wedding, because we wanted to do a lot of non-traditional stuff," Haynes said. "But one of the things that we were able to get and one of the things that I think everybody valued just as a Black tradition, was 'Jumping the Broom.'"
Jumping the Broom is a tradition often performed at weddings between two Black people. After the couple exchange vows, the newlyweds jump over a decorated broom.
"During slavery, we could not get married. We weren't allowed to get married," said Kia Marie, a wedding planner. "So Jumping the Broom sealed the deal."
Historians say jumping the broom gained renewed popularity after 1977, once many saw the ritual performed in the groundbreaking miniseries, Roots.
Common belief is that this was an African tradition, introduced in the U.S post the transatlantic slave trade. However, according to African American Studies professor at Emory University, Dr. Dianne Stewart, that belief is inaccurate and has been romanticized.
"We have overriding evidence that this tradition originates in Europe, and particularly the British Isles. About a third or a little less than a third actually mentioned 'Jumping the Broom,'" Stewart said.
Director of Education and Programs at DuSable Museum, Kim Dulaney, disagrees said that although there's limited records of the African tradition, that doesn't mean we should use European history as a default fact.
"Our history was stolen and a lot of things that are attributed to Greek philosophers and everybody else, it actually originated in Africa," Dulaney said. "I would never say out of my mouth that it originated in Europe, because I don't know that to be fact."
Regardless of where this tradition originated, Black Americans perform this ritual to honor and connect with their ancestors.
"Jumping the Broom, for many people, is a way of bringing their ancestors into the room into the sacred wedding ceremony and say, I see you, I acknowledge you, I honor you," said Stewart.
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