National Geographic News: Jubilee

National Geographic News:  Jubilee
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Jubilee meant biblical emancipation, and for newly freed African Americans, their freedom was to be celebrated with jubilationand jubilee singers and dancers. From its plantation origins, the cakewalk was an elegant and dignified part of the black minstrel variety program. The cakewalk ended every show, as the best dancers competed for prizes, with the winner determined by audience applause. On plantations the prize was a freshly baked cakeas in the expression "taking the cake." Some historians believe the cakewalk derived from black servants mocking the ballroom dances held by the white plantation elite. However, they adapted it so well that they enjoyed the dance as their own creation.

From Jubilee: The Emergence of African-American Culture, by Howard Dodson, published by National Geographic Books (February 2003) in association with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

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Photograph courtesy Culver Pictures
 
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