Jumping The Broom
During slavery times a slaves marriage didn’t have a legal standing nor was the marriage protected from the abuses and domination imposed on them by the slave-owners. A married couple, who were slaves were without legal rights, they could be separated or sold at their owners will. If the couple resided on different plantations they were allowed to visit each other only if they had their owners permission. They were not allowed to live in the same house hold like white married couples were. They didn’t have the benefit of being married by the church. Historian John Blassingame wrote about this. In his writings he states “that in most cases the slaves had to simply get their master's permission. Then they would move into a cabin together." House servants were often allowed to have a formal marriage. The slave-owner would have a preacher perform the ceremony. Often times there would be a large feast and dance held in the "quarters" to honor the couple’s marriage. Sometimes the ceremony included the slave marriage ritual of "jumping the broom”.
Jumping the broom was not a custom of slavery, but is a part of African culture. When slavery was over African-Americans could have church weddings. Most of them felt the broom ceremony wasn't required anymore. Jumping the broom fell out of practice among most African Americans who wanted nothing to do with anything associated with the slavery. A lot of practices were put aside. When Black folks moved to the North they wanted nothing to do with the practices of the South that they thought were back-wards. Many became interested in their heritage again when Alex Haley published his book "Roots." Jumping the Broom is also practiced by those who are not African American. There are different religions that practice this ceremony with-in their culture. To name a few Wiccans and Gypsies have developed their own broom-jumping tradition.
The broom has always had a spiritual value; it symbolizes the sweeping away past wrongs or removing evil spirits. When a couple jumps over the broom in a wedding they are leaving the past behind them. They are beginning a new life together. They are becoming one in their marriage. I wanted to write about this because I think it is a very important ceremony and two because I have the honor of making my soon to be daughter- in-laws broom for her wedding to my son.