On June 13, 2021, join Juneteenth Cincinnati in recognizing the significant role of water in the 400-year history of African enslavement and the quest for freedom. This will be a simple, symbolic dance. We will all wear white with an accent of color if we choose (sash, a scarf, jewelry, etc.). In Cincinnati we will dance on the Cincinnati waterfront, symbolizing the journey from enslavement to freedom.
Water is an important image in African American spirituals. Deep River finds hope on the other side of the river. Go Down, Moses is a spiritual of deliverance in which Pharaoh’s armies were drowned in the Red Sea, and Harriet Tubman is said to have sung Wade in the Water to remind her Underground Railroad passengers how to evade the slavecatchers’ dogs.
Water was an inescapable aspect of the slave experience. Africans began their horrifying journey by traveling across the Atlantic Ocean, crammed like cattle in the holds of slave ships. Once in the United States, they were shipped up river and down to plantations and farms where they would spend the rest of their lives in bondage. The Ohio River was one of the dividing lines between enslavement and freedom. Escape via the Underground Railroad sometimes began with refuge in watery southern swamps. And a century later police infamously used water as a weapon, turning high-powered fire hoses against civil rights demonstrators.
Make It Universal!
We are inviting freedom lovers outside the Cincinnati area to join us virtually by performing a simultaneous dance over, beside or near a body of water in your area and taping the performance.
It can be the Atlantic Ocean, the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Cape Fear, the Chattahoochee, Lake Erie, Lake Pontchartrain. If you are not near a body of water, get creative. A fountain, a tub of water……… let’s talk.
David Choate of Revolution Dance Company has chorographed our dance steps and posted them on YouTube. If you use a cell phone to tape, turn it horizontally (the wide side across and the narrow side up and down). Send the video to us and we will edit, and compile all performances into a streaming video which will be made available to everyone on YouTube or Vimeo. Join us in the moving tribute to water on Sunday, June 13 at 3:00 pm.