Black Friday: a holiday prescribed as a day to save and blow money. The holiday is often accompanied by criticism of consumer behavior as a result of mass consumption, but the history behind it and the viral videos of customers fighting over toasters is far more interesting.
The term “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia, where the Army-Navy football game would be held every year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. The game drew in many fans from the 1950s to the 1970s, with the majority arriving on Friday. The police had to deal with all kinds of mischief and mayhem as a result of the protests, which was a tremendous burden.
It began a trend to refer to the day as “Black Friday” since the week was so inconvenient. Retailers in Philadelphia, who normally witness a jump in sales due to a large number of visitors in town, began referring to the day as Black Friday as well.
The term went nationwide in the 1980s, losing its racist and selfish reasons behind the name of Black Friday and instead adopted the black ink mystique.
Despite the name’s racist origins, Black Friday has always been a day of social justice. Because of Black Friday’s significance in the postwar American economy, it became a critical opportunity to address racial and economic inequalities. For civil rights activists, this was especially true.
According to the Washington Post, black customers’ purchasing power increased from 7 billion dollars in 1941 to 20 billion dollars in 1960. The black community gained newfound power over enterprises.
As many people’s socioeconomic situation improved, they were able to employ boycotts and pickets over the holiday season to oppose segregation and discrimination in the marketplace. This not only cost businesses money but also gave rise to many white consumers who did not want to deal with protesters.
Black Friday is still one of the most anticipated events of the holiday season, a tradition that began in 1951 and slowly became a well known day for fighting for social change and justice.