Enrolled NMH students:
Julian Snow NMH '10
My trip to Oberlin was unique in a lot of ways. Firstly, I stepped foot onto campus, expecting the sleepy demeanor of summer break, but was met with the most exciting and interesting celebration. Secondly, despite being a summer visit, I walked away from Oberlin feeling an intense connection to its mission.
I walked on campus in the midst of the "Juneteenth celebration," on the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Oberlin has played an impressive role in its commitment to education for all.
|Gus wanted to Jump the Broom|
|Even Gus got a wristband|
Oberlin also became the first college to implement coeducation. The first women were admitted in 1837 and were the first women to receive a college degree in the the United States.
|A Committed Couple in full Civil War Era Costume|
preparing to "Jump the Broom" together
At the Juneteenth information table a volunteer explained to me that it is believed that Oberlin was among the final and most established stops on the Underground Railroad. The town was known as a safe-haven for freedom and equality, and it is believed that every slave who made it as far as Oberlin eventually made it safely to Canada. Students, faculty, and town residents are incredibly proud of the institution's important role in American History.
Among the most amazing traditions I stumbled across in my self guided tour was the “Jumping of the Broom” ceremony. The officiant at the “Jumping of the Broom ceremony” invited committed couples to step forward and announce their commitment to the community by jumping over the broom. He explained that this ceremony is in part honoring those slaves who were unable to practice the traditional marriage rituals of their home families and traditions. There are many interpretations of the origin of the “jumping of the broom," but in the moment I was quite taken by the energy and excitement of the participating couples. The couples ranged from being committed to each other for 6 months to 64 years!
By the time I left Oberlin, I was impressed not only by its incredible facilities, but by its displayed commitment to education for all.
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI