When Africans lost the right to use their drums through the Negro Act of 1740, they began to use their bodies as percussive instruments in response. This act of survival and activism earned them the name of “Drumfolk,” coined by famed folklorist Bessie Jones. Their percussive movement gave rise to some of the country’s most distinctive art forms, including the ring shout, tap, hambone, and stepping. Step Afrika’s Stono highlights the spirit of resistance and activism that remains a critical part of American freedom, and the virtual premiere will be immediately followed by a live panel discussion moderated by Lesli Foster (evening anchor for WUSA) and joined by such participants as C. Brian Williams (Step Afrika’s founder and executive director), Dr. Aimee Meredith Cox (Associate Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Yale University), and Iowa City mayor Bruce Teague. The panelists will explore the Stono Rebellion and its relevance to issues regarding political protest and structural inequities that dominate American conversations today.
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