Events

A Famous Anti-Slavery Speech Finds New Life in Brooklyn

“A Time for Seditious Speech” aims to show that speech can serve as a call to direct action, sometimes even violence.

Dread Scott, "Slave Rebellion Reenactment, Army of the Enslaved" (2019) (image courtesy the artist)
Dread Scott, “Slave Rebellion Reenactment, Army of the Enslaved” (2019) (image courtesy the artist)

Weeksville Heritage Center, in collaboration with the New School’s Vera List Center for Art and Politics, is hosting “A Time for Seditious Speech” this Saturday, April 13. The event is part of a year-long seminar series titled Freedom of Speech: Curriculum for Studies into Darkness, and Saturday’s event is the fifth seminar in the series.

“A Time for Seditious Speech” aims to show that speech can serve as a call to direct action, sometimes violence. The event’s webpage references Reverend Henry Highland Garnet, who, in 1843 at one of the “Colored Conventions” — where free Black people came together to discuss political, social, and legal justice — delivered a speech referred to as the Call to Rebellion. In the speech, Garnet proclaimed that “neither god, nor angels, or just men, command you to suffer for a single moment. Therefore it is your solemn and imperative duty to use every means, both moral, intellectual, and physical that promises success.” He implored enslaved Africans to resist their masters in an effort to secure liberty.

The event on Saturday will open with a performative reading of Garnet’s Call to Rebellion, followed by a public procession through Weeksville’s historic grounds. There, actors will read parts of the speech in the gardens and Hunterfly Road Houses. Afterwards, there will be a discussion between curator and historian Prithi Kanakemdala, media and technology lawyer Nabiha Syed, and artists Michael Rakowitz and Dread Scott, moderated by historian and writer Kazembe Balagun.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Guests can register here, after which they will receive preparatory reading material.

More information on the series and the event can be found here.

When: Saturday, April 13, 1:00–3:30 pm
Where: Weeksville Heritage Center, 158 Dr. Joan Maynard Way/Buffalo Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn

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