• Terri White, LPC

7 Historical Facts about African American Marriages

Marriage has been honored by God since the beginning of time. It is possible in todays society that marriage among black couples have been taken for granted and not much thought given to the history of what blacks had to go through to have access to this privilege. This article will share 7 historical facts about black marriage that will give you something to think about before you enter a sacred and life-long union.

Fact 1: During slavery and civil war, blacks were not allowed to be married and were not considered a “whole” person. Slaves were not considered citizens of the United States and did not have any human rights, not even of their own bodies. In most cases, the man could not live under the same roof as his partner. In 1866 slaves were just being acknowledged with basic human rights which included being granted marriage by his/her salve owner (Goring, 2006).

Fact 2: “Jumping the broom” was an act that slaveowners initiated when they made slaves marry each other. Slaves learned that this was a way to display their legitimacy in being married. After the abolishment of slavery, African Americans had a difficult time utilizing the legalities of marriage through obtaining a marriage license because they found that the broom was a sufficient ritual.

Fact 3: After researching marital satisfaction among black couples, it was determined that African American couple fit one of the five couple typology which describes their level of satisfaction. The five typology includes: Vitalized, Harmonious, Traditional, Conflicted, and Devitalized. (Allen and Olson, 2001). The vitalized and harmonious couples are considered more satisfied with their marriage, while conflicted and devitalized were more conflicted and dis-satisfied.

Fact 4: Religious orientation is key factor among African American and contribute to reducing exterior stressors such as institutional racism and poverty. According to a Pew Research African Americans are more religious than whites and Latinos. African Americans are more likely to attend church service once a week and pray regularly. In 2012, Washing Post article, African American women are the most religious people in the United States.

Fact 5: In 2003 National Black Marriage Day was established by NISA MUHAMMAD. This day of celebration is not getting nearly as much attention as it should especially among the African American community. Black Marriage Day is celebrated on the 4th Sunday in March. Nisa founded and began the day of celebration after collecting despairing results about the decline in African American marriages. She brought more awareness to couples who celebrate black love but also to promote more healthy relationships and enlighten the African American community about the benefits of marriage to men, women, children, and community.

Fact 6: To increase marriage sustainability, African American couples require resources and counseling that are culturally sound. There is no “one size fit all” married couples. Because African Americans have challenges that are different from whites, the approach in working with them must meet their needs. An example is the high level of poverty African American struggle with versus white families, systemic racism, and other external factors.

Fact 7: Let us put the myth to rest that African Americans will struggle more by getting married than “shacking”. Research shows that marriage in African Americans contribute to them gaining greater wealth, higher rates of home ownership, and better schools. Men have a more satisfying sexual relationship, emotionally healthier, and greater potential to make higher wages and bonuses. Women are less likely to live in poverty, safer from domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. Like any other marriage, work is required along with commitment and a willing to grow.

© 2019 Terri White