Mudcat Café message #1952277 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #98518   Message #1952277
Posted By: Azizi
30-Jan-07 - 08:26 AM
Thread Name: Holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya'
Subject: RE: Holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya'
I'm curious about this custom of [to quote Tinker; 29 Jan 07 - 08:00 PM ] "...standing by the campfire late in the evening arms crossed, hands held, body's swaying and Kumbaya being sungholding hands".

In the 1960s this same practice of arms crossed holding hands with the persons standing next to you on either side became part of tradition of singing "We Shall Overcome" as a civil rights song [albeit not necessarily standing around a campfire].

Do you think there's some connection? Perhaps we'll never know, but {and with absolutely no disrespect intended and I hope none given}, I'm wondering if this custom was introduced to integrated audiences by White adults who sung Kumbayah that way at summer camps. This statement presupposes that African Americans didn't sing Kumbayah in that manner at camp or that way anywhere else. That comment also presupposes that we {African Americans} didn't sing "We Shall Overcome" that way, or didn't start the crossed arm custom of singing "We Shall Overcome". I have no way of knowing if any of these presuppositions are true. For what it's worth, I don't have any childhood or youth memories of singing "Kumbayah".


Although there are differences of opinion on this subject, I believe that "Kumbayah" originated with African American people. When you set aside the almost automatic downputting that occurs with contemporary mention of the song Kumbayah, I can imagine how powerful the words could have been to oppressed African Americans who [in my opinion and in the opinion of others] sang this song during United States slavery.

Actually, my first post to Mudcat addressed the origin of the song Kumbayah. For those interested in that topic, here's that thread:
Origins: Kumbaya


It's interesting to me that the song Kumbayah {Kumbaya} does not appear to be listed in Mudcat's African American Spirituals Permathread either under that title or under the name "Come By Here". Perhaps that's because there is still some difference of opinion as to whether Kumbayah is a 'real' African American spiritual or not.

I'd like to suggest that this song be added to the African American Spirituals Permathread and a question mark be put after its title.

If Kumbayah really is from the African American Gullah tradition, perhaps the souls of those who created this song will be satisfied by this compromise.