“The jump rope is such a simple object,” ethnomusicologist and author Kyra Gaunt begins. “It can be made out of rope, a clothesline, twine…”
“What’s important is that it has a certain weight, and that they have that kind of whip sound… The skipping rope was like a steady timeline — tick, tick, tick, tick — upon which you can add rhymes and rhythms and chants. Those ropes created a space where we were able to contribute to something that was far greater than the neighborhood.”
At a time when girls weren’t encouraged to join sports—specifically from the 1950s to the 1970s—Double Dutch jump rope was an outlet for creativity, community, and achievement on the playground and beyond, and it “remains a powerful symbol of culture and identity for Black women.”
When and where did jump rope get started? Why did it become so popular in Harlem, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens? And how did Double Dutch influence hip-hop artists, including a Grammy Award-winning single?
This video from TED’s Small Thing Big Idea series shares the fascinating history of the jump rope.
Discover Black History Month videos all year long ➜
Watch these related videos next:
• Jazzy Jumpers: New York City Jump Rope Competition
• The most skips over a single rope in one minute by a team
• Adrienn Banhegyi’s world record jump rope skills
• The Raised Fist Afro Comb: Untold’s Museum of Artifacts That Made America
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