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Did You Know? . . . The History of the Easter Egg Roll

Pictured are two attendees at the White House Easter Egg Roll in 1898 

If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

1 Corinthians 12:26

This coming Monday, after Easter, will be the traditional White House Easter Egg Roll. Started in 1878, today it is the largest egg roll worldwide. It is held on the South Lawn of the White House.

However, from the start, Black Americans did not feel included nor welcome. “It just was not something for us,” an African American writer and grandfather wrote in 1888. There was even a sense of “not being allowed to attend.” In response, the Smithsonian National Zoo opened its gates in 1891 to Black families on the Monday after Easter. Black domestic workers who had to work on Easter Sunday, and all who felt excluded from the White House event during segregation, flocked to enjoy this “holiday.”

The White House Egg Roll became “official” in the 1960s, and Easter Monday is also still celebrated at the National Zoo, primarily as a multicultural celebration. Both events now attract huge numbers of families of diverse backgrounds.