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The Pinkster Festival was the first African American festival in what would become the United States. Pinkster is a variation of Pinksteren, the Dutch word for Pentecost. This traditional Christian spring celebration was brought to North America in the 1620s by Dutch settlers in the Hudson Bay, northern New Jersey, and western Long Island areas. Not coincidentally, heavy concentrations of enslaved Africans lived in these areas as well. Both the Africans and the Dutch found ways to adapt Pinkster to their needs. It became a celebration that incorporated African cultural traditions, including dance and music. The festival was banned in 1811, apparently owing to fears among slaveholders that large gatherings of the enslaved might lead to a revolt.

European Roots

Pentecost is ...

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