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Rhythm A Day Blog for March 22, 2020: Emancipation Day, Puerto Rico

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud
(Emancipation Day),
Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico celebrates Emancipation Day on March 22. Slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico in 1873 while the island was still a Spanish colony. Puerto Rico had a particularly ugly experience of slavery. In 1560, the small island began branding slaves on the forehead with a stamp so they couldn't be kidnapped (stolen). This cruelty continued until 1784.

It wasn'y until 1818 that children of slaves could have their freedom bought as long as they were baptized. In 1866 Puerto Ricans brought petitions to Parliament to stop slavery; seven years later, in 1873, slavery was no longer legal. By that time slaves had been on the island for over 350 years.

Puerto Ricans celebrate this holiday by learning to dance the rhythms plena and bomba. They study their history, and hold events to honor famous black Puerto Ricans. Communities all over the island gather to dance, sing, feast and rejoice.

Barril de Bomba

Grupo Yoruba Bomba players
(Photo: Yolydia/CC BY-SA)

Here are some fundamental parts of the most common form of Bomba, the Bomba Sica.

Today's Vlog Lesson


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