Thanksgiving Day in America was a time when black slaves would frequently attempt to escape because it was the end of the crop season.
However, according to the African American Registry, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation establishing the Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, amending the holiday to include liberated black people. As time went by, black Americans began celebrating Thanksgiving through the church.
Here are 6 Thanksgiving Day meanings to African Americans.
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6 Thanksgiving Day Meanings for African Americans
Celebration of Harvest
Thanksgiving Day among African Americans is an annual festival to celebrate the harvest of crops, gratitude, and friendship. But most importantly, black people celebrate Thanksgiving to bond with family scattered around the states, close friends, and loved ones.
Harvest celebration in black American culture is synonymous with harvest festivals in Africa. The Asogli Yam Festival, for example, is an annual festival observed in the Volta Region of Ghana by the people of Asogli. It’s celebrated annually in September to commemorate the discovery and cultivation of yam by a hunter during a hunting expedition. People come together in a spacious location to cook and share the new yam as a gesture of gratitude.
Share Black Culture
American culture is incomplete without black culture. One black culture you’ll observe is food. Hence, Thanksgiving means sharing black culture with the rest of the world. Families gather at one location with friends and loved ones to prepare a meal, eat, dance and talk about everything black.
You’ll see the signature of Thanksgiving meal–turkey! This meal is fried, cooked, or roasted. There are also options like;
- collard greens
- and cheese yams
Teach Others About Black History
On occasions where you have white or majority groups during black Thanksgiving, you can take the opportunity to educate them about black history and why you have a different date for Thanksgiving.
You can talk about the traditions, culture, and all the things that make black people unique. Black history is replete with unique stories about hardship, systematic disparities, and racism. But above all these setbacks, black Americans are resilient and triumphant.
Thus, Thanksgiving is a celebration of bravery for black people.
Appreciation of Family and Community
While every community loves bonding with its extended family, black people place more emphasis on community at Thanksgiving. This celebration is the season where distant cousins, nephews, and aunties travel far and near to meet at the residence of one of the older generations in the family.
At dinner, the family talks about everything, including dark humor, black history, and black recipes. Hence, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to promote unity and support in the black community.
There are many instances of black people helping one another in various formats throughout the year. However, during Thanksgiving, many black people volunteer at food banks to feed the needy, donate to charities to clothe those in need, and help deprived children.
Gratitude for Progress
Black Americans have unique challenges. Thanksgiving Day means a celebration of growth thus far. This includes accounting for the accomplishments of the civil rights movement, racial inequality, education, and contributions of black people towards a better world.
Why Some Black People Don’t Celebrate Thanksgiving Day
While Thanksgiving means a lot to black people, some black people don’t observe it. This is because, for many years since Thanksgiving was introduced into American culture, black people were excluded from the celebrations.
As such, some black people don’t see Thanksgiving as a celebration of black culture.
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Despite the day’s evolution in many ways for the Black community, many still use it to be thankful for family and loved ones.
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