People are rising up to remove and destroy these symbols of racism and white supremacy which guide the thinking and economic and political policies making in this country. On the first Juneteenth National Observance San Francisco installed 350 African Ancestors. Dana King, artist, Black Bodies in Bronze, created 350 sculpted pieces to honor the original 350 Angolan captives taken from home in 1619. The Ancestors, depicted as female, surround the plinth where just one year ago, the Francis Scott Key, slave owner and supporter of African disenfranchisement and subjugation, statue came
The empty plinth is one of many toxic spaces throughout America where the Ancestors are needed in a tangible way to counter the dominant racist narrative. It is not enough to decommission these historic landmarks. Municipalities need to surround these places with a counternarrative calling for a "reckoning" or" accountability" to the people harmed-- Black people. In San Francisco this public accounting has been given two years.
Resistance is what it will take to change a landscape the powerful do not want disturbed. Wrecking or toppling thoughts and ideas and policies and laws that do not serve all equally, especially African Descendents of these 350 Ancestors and the other 10 million over 250-300 years is what this public document is about.
Dana King is a alchemist. The ancestors speak through her hands. She channels their power and humbly allows it to flow through her fingers into bronze, steel, wire tubing. The Ancestors' faces are tipped slightly up so they see the sky. Moonlight caresses their thoughts. Freedom is on their minds as Lift Ev'ry Voice refrains echo silently from the Spreckles Temple of Music . . . as the procession walked from one side of the Concourse to the other as the audience stood in respect, Friday, June 18.
This grand procession is led by women drummers who conjured and embodied with the other women and men singing Lift Ev'ry Voice, the Black National Anthem, a spirit of Sankofa: Remembrance and Resistance.
These diminuative ancestors, like their creator, don't play.
Memory lives in the blood.
Our ancestors live in us.
It is up to those of us who are "asendents" of these 350+ survivors 402+ years later to "march on till victory is won" (and after that too).
We must, as a nation, never forget the debt owed its African descendents of enslaved Africans. More importantly, this nation must never forget the foundation or legacy its heritage arises. This nation is nothing without us.
We must never forget how great we are. Great people behave like great people. We do not let others take us out of our form-- no excuses. The 350 Ancestors are lovingly holding everyone accountable. Ase.
Pictured: Dana King with singing bowl and an ariel view of the plinth with the 350 Ancestors
Photocredit: Wanda Sabir