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Jumping the BroomThe Surprising Multicultural Origins of a Black Wedding Ritual$
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Tyler D. Parry

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469660868

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469660868.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 04 July 2022

Don’t Tell Things Like That

Don’t Tell Things Like That

Matrimonial Change and Continuity after the Civil War

(p.68) Chapter Three Don’t Tell Things Like That
Jumping the Broom

Tyler D. Parry

University of North Carolina Press

The book’s third chapter examines the politics of marriage for formerly enslaved African Americans following the Civil War, in which they gained legal recognition for their domestic relationships. In reviewing the testimonies of formerly enslaved people, one finds a stark divide between those who claimed the custom was as authentic as any other ceremony, against those who, for reasons of self-protection, downplayed the significance or denied the existence of broomstick weddings on their own plantation. Consequently, jumping the broom largely faded from popularity in the postbellum era, but the chapter shows how its memory survived among certain sections of the descendant community. Under unique circumstances, some African Americans continued to practice it throughout the rural South, and other sources reveal that many formerly enslaved people refused to marry using legally-recognized protocols, as they considered the broomstick wedding as legitimate. In certain cases, this caused some couples to reject governmental requirements to remarry. But even for those who rejected it, the colloquial expression “jump the broom” remained in the parlance of Black southerners into the twentieth century. The colloquial expression was important for retaining memories of the ancestral past, and it would help spur its revival during the late-twentieth century.

Keywords:   Colloquial, Civil War, Formerly Enslaved, African Americans, Rural South, Postbellum, Broomstick Wedding, Memory

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