Charmaine Minniefield’s ‘Remembrance As Resistance’ Commemorates Juneteenth And Celebrates The Ring Shout

Flux Projects produces temporary public art projects that connect Atlanta artists and audiences through the creative power of place. Their next event begins Saturday, Juneteenth, with Charmaine Minifield’s “Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives.” This project honors the more than 800 recently discovered unmarked graves in the African American Burial Grounds of Atlanta’s Historic Oakland Cemetery.  It also celebrates the Ring Shout, a traditional African American worship, and gathering practice. Artist and activist Charmaine Minniefield joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to talk about the project and how it was delayed a year due to the pandemic.

Interview Highlights:

About the Ring Shout ritual:

“A Ring Shout was the gathering of Africans, on this side of the water during enslavement. We would gather in a circle and would do call-and-response, singing and uplifting our voices together. We used the floors of our gathering spaces, which were called ‘Praise Houses’ as our collective and communitive drum,” said Minnifield. She continued, “So despite of this effort to dismantle community, we found community together and despite the differences of our cultural origins, we found a way to communicate through rhythm and movement and it unified us.”

How “Remembrance as Resistance” demonstrates African cultural memory:

“We retained our African identity through our cultural expression as ancestral memory, that alone was resistance. The resistance that we are demonstrating is against the erasure of the memory of an entire generation of our citizens in the city. And that erasure is being corrected by remembering them,” said Minnifield.

Why Oakland Cemetery is the perfect place to hold this event:

Minnifield continued, “Oakland is one of the first sites that really exemplifies the complex history of the South. It was the burial grounds of Atlanta. It was segregated until only recently some years back; Maynard Jackson is buried there. There’s prominent African-American leadership throughout our history is buried there. There was a moment in our history, as part of their expansion, 800 graves from Slave Square were taken up and relocated to what is now the African American Burial Ground. And at the time, the citizens of Atlanta were outraged at how those souls were handled, so they established what became Southeast Cemetery. It’s that history that we’re bringing attention to, but also the fact that after so many generations and so much community need, the cemetery and its administration are all excited to invest the resources and attention in restoring the African American grounds.”

The immersive installation event starts June 19 and runs through July 11 at Atlanta’s Historic Oakland Cemetery.