On February 24th, kids from the Boys and Girls Club, and other families, joined us at the Alma Powell Branch for a Jumping the Broom ceremony.
Jumping the Broom was a marriage practice used by couples during slavery. Many times the slaves’ owners would not give permission for couples to wed. Jumping the Broom became a practice that allowed couples to unite without their owners’ knowledge. Today, this tradition has become popular as a cultural heritage ceremony.
During our event the kids took turns reading from the book Jumping the Broom written by Courtni Wright. This story is about a young slave girl, Lettie, whose sister, Tillie, is planning a Jumping the Broom ceremony. Courtni Wright tells how slave families worked together to prepare for the ceremony. The women spent their days working on a quilt to keep the young couple warm. They prepared food for the ceremony. The men built furniture and caught fish to salt for the winter. Everyone pitched in.
At our event Erika and Hari dressed the part of a couple in a pretend ceremony; we decorated miniature brooms, ate homemade wedding cake and drank homemade Jamaican-style ginger soda. We talked about other ceremonies and the quilt making custom.
Thanks to the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo we had a fantastic quilt display exhibited in the Barnabee Gallery! These quilts were done by a group of African American women of Southwest Michigan. It brought the Barnabee Gallery alive with African American heritage and history.
Harriette Cole’s book Jumping the broom: The African-American Wedding Planner is not only historical but is a modern-day guide for couples wanting to tie the knot. Ms. Cole offers anecdotes, traditions and choices for blending today’s culture with elements of the past.
Jumping the Broom