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Traditions

AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE AND TRADITIONS

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An African American man gives a piano lesson to a young African- American woman, in 1899 or 1900, in Georgia, USA. Photograph from a collection of W. E. B. Du Bois.

African-American culture in the United States refers to the cultural contributions of Americans of African descent to the culture of the United States, either as part of or distinct from American culture. The distinct identity of African American culture is rooted in the historical experience of the African American people, including the Middle Passage, and thus the culture retains a distinct identity while at the same time it is enormously influential to American culture as a whole.

Source: Wikipedia
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WATCH-NIGHT SERVICE

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Many of you who live or grew up in Black communities in the United States have probably heard of “Watch Night Services,” the gathering of the faithful in church on New Year’s Eve. The service usually begins anywhere from 7 p.m. To 10 p.m. And ends at midnight with the entrance of the New Year. Some folks come to church first, before going out to celebrate. For others, church is the only New Year’s Eve event.

Like many others, I always assumed that Watch Night was a fairly standard Christian religious service — made a bit more Afro centric because that’s what happens when elements of Christianity become linked with the Black Church. Still, it seemed that predominately White Christian churches did not include Watch Night services on their calendars, but focused instead on Christmas Eve programs.  In fact, there were instances where clergy in mainline denominations wondered aloud about the propriety of linking religious services with a secular holiday like New Year’s Eve.  However, there is a reason for the importance of New Year’s Eve services in African American congregations.  The Watch Night Services in Black communities that we celebrate today can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as “Freedom’s Eve.”  On that night, Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law.  Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free.  When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God.  Black folks have gathered in churches annually on New Year’s Eve ever since, praising God for bringing us safely through another year.

It’s been 145 years since that first Freedom’s Eve and many of us were never taught the African American history of Watch Night, but tradition still brings us together at this time every year to celebrate “how we got over.”  Pass this information on so we can educate more of our Family and Friends about our History!

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JUNETEENTH

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Description: Juneteenth day celebration in Texas.

Date: June 19, 1900

Source: PICA 05476, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.Order Number 3

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”  LEARN MORE AT http://www.juneteenth.com/

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KWANZAA

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(Quansa) is a holiday celebrated by many African-Americans. It is held December 26th through January 1st. It was started in 1966 by Doctor Maulana Karenga, Professor at the California State University, Long Beach, California.

THE OFFICIAL KWANZAA WEBSITE

http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml

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