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The Historic Origins of the Dap

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The dap is more than just a handshake, it’s a symbol of solidarity, one with a long and proud history behind it. The origins of this greeting trace back to young Black American soldiers stationed abroad during the Vietnam War. With racism prevalent in the military and a new Black consciousness emerging during the civil rights movement, the young soldiers developed a physical language as a gesture of unity. Thus was born the dap, an acronym for “Dignity and Pride.” Photographer LaMont Hamilton has been studying the historical impact of the dap in his series “Five on the Black Hand Side,” telling the story of how the handshake came to hold such a profound place in Black culture.

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