Slave Rebellion Reenactment – Epic, Historical and Uplifting

 Kumbuka Egungun Ancestral Procession, Dread Scott (second from left) with Army of the Enslaved (Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson)
Kumbuka Egungun Ancestral Procession, Dread Scott (second from left) with Army of the Enslaved (Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson)

By Ricky Richardson, Contributing Writer

New Orleans – An amazing arrangement of “Do You Know What It Means” (To Miss New Orleans) by Eyal Vilner Big Band is playing in the background as I write this blog review. I have lost count of how many times that I’ve visited New Orleans in the last 25 years. In the past, I have visited twice in a year. During each of my visits, without fail, there is always something new that I have discovered.

I recently returned from New Orleans, November 6-10, 2019. The Universe was aligned for me so that I was able to learn about and attend an epic, historical and uplifting Slave Rebellion Reenactment.

Slave Rebellion Reenactment is a large scale, community-engaged film and art performance reimaging the largest rebellion of enslaved people in the United States-The German Coast Uprising of 1811, which took place in the river parishes just outside of New Orleans.

Slave Rebellion Reenactment is a project about resistance and freedom, the artwork involves hundreds of reenactors in period specific clothing, marching for two days covering 26 miles. The project explores how the past informs the present, telling a bold inspiring story about freedom, and those who died fighting for it.

The project was conceived by artist Dread Scott and is produced in partnership with New Orleans based arts organization Antenna, alongside many other community partners and advisors in Louisiana and beyond.

Dread Scott makes revolutionary art to propel history forward, his work has been exhibited/performed at the Whitney Museum, MoMA/PS1, BAM Fisher and galleries and street corners across the country.

On Friday, November 8th, the reenactment traced a 12-mile route through the St. John the Baptist Parish and part of St. Charles. The performance travelled from La Place to Norco, following river Road, concluding at the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway.

On Saturday, November 9th, the reenactment traced a 12-mil route through the St. Charles Parish. The performance travelled along the river from Norco to St. Rose, following the River Road.

The final phase of the performance travelled through the French Quarter, from the U.S. Mint. The reenactment concluded in Congo Square, in Louis Armstrong Park.

Each time I step into Congo Square, I feel a spiritual connection with the Ancestors. The Congo Square Preservation Society has been the major catalyst in the resurrection and preservation of historic and sacred Congo Square. The leadership team consist of Baba Luther Gray, Jamilah Peters-Muhammad, Marcus Akinlana, Alison McCrary, Freddi Williams Evans, Janet Sula Evans, Victor Robinson and Dr. Denise L. Graves.

Congo Square was the site for the final phase of the Slave Rebellion Reenactment. A vibrant celebration of freedom was held from 4-6pm.

12noon-4pm several local Poets/Spoken Word Artist/Rappers took to the stage to share some empowering, socially conscious lyrics for an attentive and captivated audience. Slangston Hughes & Fo on the Flo, Truth Universal, Asali Ecclesiastes, Sess 4-5. This set the stage for Delfeayo Marsalis dazzling performance. The band came out swinging with straight ahead jazz fitting for the occasion. Vocalist Sunni Patterson joined the band for several tunes.

The Army of the Enslaved arrived at Armstrong Park, they were met by Kumbuka Egungun Ancestral Procession, Sula and the Healers, while singing “Hell You talkin’ bout.”

The program continued with FiYiYi Drummers and Dancers and concluded with an energetic performance by Free Agents Brass Band to the delight of all in attendance.

 Baba Luther Gray and Drummers. (Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson)
Baba Luther Gray and Drummers. (Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson)