Legacies Links for the Winter Holidays: Hanukkah, Christmas, Jonkonnu, and Kwanzaa

Whatever holiday(s) you celebrate this season, we hope they are happy! The Legacies blog will be taking a brief winter holiday of its own, until January 2, 2023. In the meantime, we encourage you to share this final round of links for 2022. As always, the links shared here do not imply agreement or endorsement by the Council of Independent Colleges.

This is probably the best book about Christmas and slavery. It also has the most striking cover illustration.

Christmas and Slavery:

  • “The Slave Experience of the Holidays,” Documenting the American South: LINK.
  • Robert E. May, “The Grim History of Christmas for Enslaved People in the Deep South,” TIME (December 21, 2021): LINK. Historian Robert E. May discusses the reality of the holiday season for enslaved people in the South. Also see his important book on the topic, with thoughtful reviews here and here.
  • Brandon Byrd, “Ghosts of Slavery’s Christmas,” Black Perspectives (December 22, 2016): LINK. Some plantation tours continue to promote a rosy picture of antebellum Christmas in the slave South.
  • “How Women Used Christmas to Fight Slavery,” History Channel: LINK. In 1834, Black and white women from the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society organized Christmas bazaars to sell donated gifts to support the abolitionist cause.
  • Ashleigh Fields, “Jonkonnu: A joyous yuletide festival that celebrates African roots,” The Charlotte Post (December 21, 2021): LINK. Widely commemorated in North Carolina, Jonkonnu is a celebration of African spiritual roots through a combination of costume, music, and dance. The tradition appeared in Jamaica during colonial times, and later spread to other Caribbean islands, Bermuda, North Carolina, and parts of Virginia.
Winslow Homer painted this vision of Jonkonnu in 1877.
source: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, Blacks and Jews:

  • Samira Mehta, “‘Untraditional’ Hanukkah celebrations are often full of traditions for Jews of color,” The Conversation (December 16, 2022): LINK.
  • Charles L. Howard, “What Being the Only Black Kid at Jewish Summer Camp Taught Me About Hanukkah and Kwanzaa,” Forward (December 15, 2017): LINK. A thoughtful reflection of the longtime alliance between Black and Jewish people.
  • Robin Washington, “The creator of Kwanzaa modified a Hanukkah menorah—and gave advice to Black Jews,” Forward (December 23, 2021): LINK. Washington, who co-founded the Alliance of Black Jews, recalls the advice his group received at a critical moment from the creator of Kwanzaa, Maulana Karenga.