n a Christmas morning in the late 1840s, the people on a cotton plantation in eastern North Carolina – like Oak Forest plantation, owned by my fifth great-grandfather, Reverend William Bellamy – would begin their day with a few random thumps rousing people awake.
The thumping would give way to music, from hide stretched over boxes, gourd rattles, cowbells, triangles, whistles and horns, all urging excited children to rise from cornshuck pallets and put on trousers covered in patches and gleaming white shirts or dresses made from homespun fabric dyed in false indigo, poke berries and onion skins.
The children would joined the crowd outside the rough log cabin quarters, clapping and singing, as a man emerged covered in strips of colorful rags, his head obscured by animal hides and topped off with deer antlers. As he moved in time with the makeshift orchestra...
Peaceful White Christmas Out Front
Black Slaves bringing food from cook house out back
[This] was called John Canoe...
A "JOHN CANOE" CHRISTMAS WAS BOTH A REST FROM SLAVERY AND A REINFORCEMENT OF IT. READ MORE: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/25/american-slaves-christmas-was-a-respite-from-bondage-and-a-reinforcement-of-it