How to: Commemorate

The Gabriel Week event was a well-organized event, with a focus on community engagement. The event took place in the African Burial Ground and ensured that all attendees were also participants and students of the experience.

The event commemorated the week of Gabriel’s Rebellion and focused on Gabriel’s journey. I was shocked by the lack of markings or information given at the site in remembrance of Gabriel and others who were hung at the site. The location itself was not used by many to commemorate our Brother Gabriel, but I felt honored to be one of few to do so at this particular time and event.

The use of the arts (dance, music, and theater) was well-selected and gave just enough information about the location, event, and main character, Gabriel. The dancing was particularly my favorite part because it spoke to us all, while not saying a thing. The passion and feeling conveyed to the audience, through the Buju Banton and DJ Khaled collaboration, was one of the best modern hip-hop pieces I’ve ever seen.

I would agree that the goal was to commemorate Gabriel and his actions. For one, we were all encouraged to wear white. When we arrived, we were taught a march, which was another form of commemoration. We then walked as a community to the plaque on the highway where the location was briefly described. Walking back to the ground site, we were greeted by a touching performance that included a short skit and clips of songs, to remind us of Gabriel’s presence here in Richmond.

Participating in an event like this speaks to the importance of historic knowledge, acknowledgment of the past, and willingness to extend the truth. This event ensured that at least one of the parts of the event would affect every participant in one way or another.

The ritual at the end of this event truly tied it together and reminded us that everything we do has meaning, no matter how simple. We should be aware of our intentions and determine the best way to execute these intentions. I learned of more information on Gabriel and ways we can lift him up in incredible honor. I was also reminded that a moment of peace and silence before action never hurts. Since this event, I’ve tried to implement intentions in my everyday life and strategically plan out my time and energy before proceeding to immediately follow my thoughts or heart’s desires.

I think it is incredibly important to collectively commemorate important dates and people in our history and I am excited to continue doing this in our class and beyond. My only question would be, “What are some additional ways to commemorate Brother Gabriel?”

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Of Strangers in White

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Gabriel Week: Exposure to the Past

1 Comment

  1. Kayla Schiltz

    I’ve been focused on the performance for commemorating Gabriel but I forget that the job is never done and there is so much more we have to do in the community. The performance brings awareness but it is our jobs after the performance to keep learning and teaching others about other injustices and finding ways to bring light to them and fix them.

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