MS is a 60 year old mother of five from the South. She is strongly connected to her African American heritage and has been to many weddings in her family and community where the newlyweds jumped the broom.
Context: Jumping the broom is a tradition that roots from slavery where the newlyweds would jump the broom to commence their marriage since slaves were not allowed to marry. This was collected after dinner sitting at the table.
Collector: From your experience, what does it mean when a couple jumps the broom?
MS: Almost all of the weddings I have been to where the jumping the broom took place have been the same. What happens is, after the bride and groom kiss at the end of the ceremony, they turn towards the witnesses and the broom is placed before them. They first kiss the tips of their fingers and touch the broom. Then they hold hands and jump the broom together.
Collector: Since black people can legally get married now, why do you think African Americans continue to jump the broom?
MS: I think they still do it in honor of their ancestors and where they come from. Many southern folk keep the tradition going since slavery was especially prominent there. It also represents togetherness and is the first presentation of the couple as a unit, so it’s important.
Thoughts/Analysis: Traditions that come from historical adaptations are especially interesting. The tradition of jumping the broom was a result of the determination of African Americans to create and officiate their own families and lives. The way that African Americans today continue the tradition speaks to their continuous connection to their heritage. Heritage is not something one can simply adopt or take place in. The participants in this performance inherited it from elders in their family and will continue to pass it on. This is also a variation of jumping the broom, I have heard of this tradition before but never heard about the newlyweds kissing their hands and touching the broom.