Rebellion on the Coast: Louisiana artists reenact Black armed resistance

A long time ago,
An enslaved people heading toward freedom
Made up a song:
Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
The plow plowed a new furrow
Across the field of history.
Into that furrow the freedom seed was dropped.
From that seed a tree grew, is growing, will ever grow.

Excerpted from “Freedom’s Plow,” by Langston Hughes

A marvel of Black revolutionary artistry took place in southern Louisiana last autumn—a reenactment of the largest slave rebellion in the United States, the German Coast Uprising of 1811.

Held on November 8 and 9, 2019, the Slave Rebellion Reenactment (SRR) was six years in the dreaming, conceptualizing and planning, two days in the execution, and an as-of-yet-to-be-determined duration of continuing impacts and resonances.

The 350 participants in period costumes traveled on foot and horseback over two days along the 26 mile route of the original rebels. (Watch video here.) The creation of the revolt spectacle was guided in large part by the text, maps, news accounts, song lyrics, gravestone markers, letters and images collected in On to New Orleans!, Albert Thrasher and Leon Waters’  monograph about the uprising published in 1996 by Cypress Press. In artist Dread Scott’s hands, assisted by Antenna, the small New Orleans-based nonprofit that led the organizing, On to New Orleans! became the spark for a blazing meteor of transference of historical knowledge.

For Scott, the primary vision-holder of the reenactment journey, recuperation of the history of armed Black revolutionary struggle in America is a necessary element of contemporary community self-defense, and not just for Black people.

Read the article at Scalawag