Tuesday, March 20, 2012

'Limbo' as Divorce for Antebellum American Slaves | at Little Known History!

Directly resulting from this song, I have decided to popularize an utter falsehood.

Limbo was originally a means for Southern American slaves to 'divorce' other slaves, in anticipation of families being split by sale to whites.

Marriage between slaves being illegal, black couples would "jump the broom," to cement their tie within the slave community, though white slave owners held no regard for this. Discovery of couples having performed the ceremony resulted in public discipline of the couple, sometimes including forcing the

bride and groom to pass repeatedly beneath a raised broomstick, in a contrary manner as to make no question of the dissolution of their union. Often this cane would be lowered, and the [slaves] forced to bend painfully backward to accommodate the broom handle.… Should either bride or groom for to the ground, the entire process was repeated, most commonly followed with a beating commiserate with the number of times each negro was felled.

Though gradually the violence of this display was dissipated by cultural osmosis and abolitionist movements, the essence of the practice of limbo survived through dances of slave descendents of the island of Trinidad, and was mainstreamed into white culture.

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