Pinkster Festival has evolved into one of the most important African American holidays in the United States. What was once a Dutch celebration to welcome Spring and allow them to socialize with friends and family has evolved into a period of remembering the toil and sweat of millions of enslaved Africans who were oppressed.
The last time the Dutch Pinkster celebration was in full swing in America was in 1655, when the Court of Fort Orange gave the green light to the burgher guard of Beverwijck to celebrate parrot shooting and Pentecost.
According to the Low Countries, it continued until the mid-nineteenth century, when the political authorities decided to halt its celebration among the Dutch due to its popularity among African Americans. Since then, the Pinkster Festival has served as an escape for enslaved people in Northern America, allowing them to reconnect with their families and share stories of their liberation struggles.
According to the National Park Service, it was also considered a period of rest from daily struggles and their associated pressures, where slaves expressed their reservations about racial injustice and discrimination through storytelling and songs. It also served as a platform for teaching their children and families about African customs and traditions.
The manner in which the Pinkster Festival was embraced by enslaved people in the mid-nineteenth century compelled state authorities to cancel the celebration out of fear that it would become a means of uniting the African-American community for one purpose.
There were fears that if the Dutch Pinkster Festival was not prohibited, African Americans would become agitated and stage a series of protests. It was revived in the 1970s at Phillipsburg Manor House in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and is now commemorated.
Pinkster has become one of the oldest African American holidays among the 13 colonies that comprise the United States. Enslaved Africans began incorporating customs and traditions from the African Bantu culture of Congo and Angola as the celebrations evolved in the 17th century.
It evolved into a carnival in the 18th century, attracting large crowds to New York City and selling wares ranging from beverages to herbs to oysters in an atmosphere of dancing, singing, and drinking. The celebration usually lasts three to four days, during which time participants are treated to a variety of sporting events and cultural dance displays.
A king or queen is chosen from the crowd, and it is their responsibility to ensure that the festival runs smoothly. The enslaved who was nominated king or queen exercised his fleeting authority within the jurisdiction where the festival is held in the 17th century.
The African Burial Ground National Monument organizes and supervises the festival, which collaborates closely with the African-American Pinkster Committee of New York in the reading of proclamations, wreath laying, liberation pouring, and other performances.