Last summer I spent June and July in Georgia during which time the landmark decision was made by the supreme court in the case of Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, granting "closely held for-profit corporations to be exempt from a law its owners religiously object to if there is a less restrictive means of furthering the law's interest. The Court's majority directly struck down the contraceptive mandate, a regulation adopted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring employers to cover certain contraceptives for their female employees, by a 5-4 vote. The ruling could have widespread impact, allowing corporations to claim religious exemptions from federal laws." (Wiki) Put simply removing women's rights to equal healthcare.
As this case unfolded I began to investigate the dilapidated bigoted history of Georgia through it's monument Stone Mountain the "Confederate Mount Rushmore". Stone Mountain was stolen first by Spanish colonialists then by George Washington who forced the Creek people off of the land and later was purchased by the Venable Brothers who leased the face of the mountain to the Daughters of the Confederacy who had a bas relief carved of three Confederate leaders of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson. Next we have the revival of the Ku Klux Klan who on November 25th, 1915, included fifteen robed and hooded "charter members", met at Stone Mountain to create a new iteration of the Klan. This meeting coincided with the release of 'Birth of a Nation' which fueled the KKK's revival. Now in the current embodiment of Stone Mountain a 'family celebration of American Southern pride' takes place year round with propagandistic music and visuals perpetuating bigoted attitudes and allegiances while simultaneously blurring the historical realities of this space with that of a Disney-like ignorance. During the filming of the this video nearly 5,000 people were present with children waving flags in hand celebrating a convoluted history of slavery, murder and hate. Why this "monument" of such horror still stands is beyond me and how the Georgia government subsidizes it is even more mind blowing. The third history that is represented in this video is shot in Riceboro, Georgia during a Geechee Gullah revival. The Gullah/Geechee people are descendents of enslaved Africans from various ethnic groups of west and central Africa. Brought to the New World and forced to work on the plantations of coastal South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida. The Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters are part of probably the oldest African American surviving performance tradition in the US. "This compelling fusion of counterclockwise dancelike movement, call-and-response singing, and percussion of hand clapping and a stick beating a drumlike rhythm on a wooden floor is clearly African in its origins and most salient features. The ring shout affirms oneness with the Spirit and ancestors as well as community cohesiveness. As the tradition developed in slavery times, strong elements of Christian belief were grafted onto it. The ring shout was first described in detail during the Civil War (1861-65) by outside observers in coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. Its practice continued in those areas well into the twentieth century, even as its influence was resounding in later forms like spiritual, jubilee, and gospel music, and elements of jazz. By the last quarter of the twentieth century, however, the ring shout itself was presumed to have died out until its rediscovery in 1980 in McIntosh County."( Art Rosenbaum, University of Georgia,
04/06/2005 ) Shouting was a way of keeping the passage of messages, memories and histories from times when the voices of people enslaved where not to be heard. During our time at the revival the people of the the Geechee Gullah generously shared a history both through performance and the museum dedicated to the ancestors who had fought to preserve the heritage they bring to us today. I created a sound mix in this video of both the Geechee Gullah and some snippets of live audio from Stone Mountain to contrast and subvert the history and people's the US government gives precedence. The Geechee Gullah deserve to be funded and memorialized for their rich, positive contribution to 'American Southern Hertitage' and in the same gesture the face of Stone Mountain should be erased and the ancestors of those who lost their lives at the hands of racism and slavery should replace those confederate fools. And finally footage from the Civil War reenactment of the 'Battle of Reseca'. Due to the lack of participation in 'playing' Yankee soldiers, a fee was charged to play Confederate soldiers. The number of Yankee's was still to small to recreate a battle so a rule was made that all soldiers must 'play' a northerner aka Yankee every other year, shedding light on a very terrifying mentality.