Celebration as connection
Celebrations, holidays, and Sundays provided enslaved people with the means to build communities, cement bonds, and develop expansive networks across vast areas. These celebrations and games were an act of rebellion through community-building. They would provide an outlet for frustrations, but also as a way to join together and forms alliances and solidify bonds within their immediate social group.
They would sing songs, dance, and enjoy meals as described below in these three interview excerpts.
John Bectom interview: celebration excerpt
In his interview, Bectom recalls the celebrations and games they would play on the large plantation he lived on. He remembers the physical activities like “games of high jump, jumping over the pole held by two people, wrestling, leap frog, and jumping.” He also talks about the celebrations that centred around food like corn shuckings, candy pullings, and the fall camp meetings. These celebrations and games were an act of rebellion through community-building. They would provide an outlet for frustrations, but also as a way to join together and forms alliances and solidify bonds.
Alice Braugh interview: celebration excerpt
Baugh also mentions corn shucking celebrations in her interview. She also talks about holidays taken between Christmas and the day after New Year’s day. She speaks about barn dances, prayer meetings, and the food, like “turkey an’ all de rest o’ de fixin’s” that would be served. These various holidays and Sundays were considered basic rights for an enslaved person and attempts to do away with them resulted in absences, work slowdowns, and the destruction of equipment on some plantations. These holidays would inform and preserve an intimate way of life and develop kin networks.
Zeb Crowder interview: celebration excerpt
Crowder recalls the days where they would have “candy pullin’s,” and he brags that he could eat more ash cakes than anyone. He remembers games of marbles and jumping that he played as a child. He even mentions the dances they would have in the winter time. Again, these activities would foster a sense of community and intimacy for the families and played a role in maintaining relationships.