A recent report on attitudes toward racism in the South found that many white and even some Latino and African Americans in New Orleans said they were uninterested in dredging up the history of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial segregation. Nonetheless, that history will be confronting them this weekend, when hundreds of African Americans band together to reenact the German Coast Uprising of 1811, considered the largest slave revolt in U.S. history.
Under the direction of performance artist Dread Scott, the actors will walk the exact same route as the revolters of 1811, a 26-mile trek along the Mississippi River that will begin near LaPlace, Louisiana, in an area that was known as the “German Coast,” named for the German colonists who settled it in the 1700s. They will cross through parts of “Cancer Alley” and end in Congo Square in New Orleans. The actors will be costumed in 19th-century garb and armed with period-era machetes, muskets, and drums, like the enslaved revolters they’re emulating.