Cake Walk

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  • The cakewalk is a couples’ dance originated by black slaves in North America around the early 1900’s. It was originally known as the chalk line walk, adapted from the Seminole Indians. The "walkers would walk a straight line and balance buckets of water on their heads.
    Eventually, the cakewalk became the only approved way to mock the white masters in the "big house." the dance would be held at the master’s plantation house and he would, in turn, serve as a judge. Which dance was performed? Well, that was determined by the type of cake presented.
    That same cake was awarded to the winning couple. Slaves and servants were encouraged to mock the masters at the cakewalk. The dancers wore their best clothing and imitated white men and women.
    Some plantation owners would bake a special cake called a hoecake wrapped in cabbage leaf for the cakewalk and invited the neighbors over to again, watch the slaves perform. The prize included a hoecake for the males and molasses pulled candy for the ladies.  The winning slaves would get the cake or candy, possibly giving birth to the term "that takes the cake!" 

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    3 thoughts on “Cake Walk

    1. Pingback: Cake Walk

    2. My greater concern is what is the source for this revisionist history of Black America. It sounds more like the Tea Party promoted whitewash of slavery in American History . The Emancipation Proclamation issued January 1, 1863, stated “that all persons held as slaves. . .are, and henceforward shall be free.”
      Of course it took some time for that word to get back to the slaves, but from 1863, I contend that happened much sooner than “the early 1900’s”. That makes your depiction detail incongruous with your time frame for the Cake Walk. Another point, a hoe cake is, in fact, a cornbread pancake, a very popular southern rendition of a pancake. It is quite often served along with greens (including cabbage) and pot licker for dinner instead of cornbread muffins. Since ‘the master’ (or his family) did not do the cooking, I’d hardly think the hoecake a major ‘prize’ from the master for a contest of cake walking. (Booby prize, maybe).

    3. Ms. Taylor,
      Please vet your ‘facts’ before publication. Your writers do not seem to realize that ‘slavery’ in North America officially ended in the mid to late 1800′s, so your depiction is somewhat faulty in light of your time line.

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