No, ‘Black Friday’ didn’t start as the day slaves were sold in the US

The US “Black Friday” holiday is known for shops opening early, long queues and very cheap goods. It’s held every year on the day after Thanksgiving.

It has now spread to other countries, including South Africa. Chaotic scenes have been recorded, as bargain hunters barge their way into shops.

But an image on Facebook suggests the holiday has a sinister history. The post claims “the term ‘Black Friday’ originated with the practice of selling off slaves on the day after Thanksgiving”.

It asks: “Do we really need to embrace this kind of torture?”

First used decades after slavery ended

The claim has been doing the rounds for years. In 2013, fact-checking website Snopes found there was no evidence to support it.

Their investigation revealed that the term “Black Friday” was likely first used in 1951 – over 80 years after slavery ended in the US.

In the 1950s the day after Thanksgiving was not a holiday. Snopes reports that workers would often call in sick so they could enjoy a four-day weekend. Employers soon nicknamed the day “Black Friday”.

It’s also been used by US police, a result of the large unruly crowds and congested traffic experienced on the day.

Another theory is that the day marks the time of the year when shops first make a profit, moving out of the red and into the black. – Africa Check (18/03/19)

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