Kerfuffle Over Slave Auction Reenactment

Charlottesville drummer Scottie Williams (well-known as “Scottie B.”) and and activist Anson Parker have raised a minor ruckus as a result of a beautifully-executed piece of street theater during the recent Jefferson Thanksgiving Festival in Court Square. In costume, Williams portrayed a slave by the name of “Bilal,” while Parker portrayed auctioneer “Cornelius A. Banker,” with Williams standing on a block with “Slave for Sale” painted on it. (Court Square was where slave auctions were held from the late 1700s through the mid 1800s.) Parker worked the crowd, encouraging people to bid on him, while across the street, a more whitewashed portrayal of Jefferson-era Thanksgiving festivities was offered as a part of the official festival. The NAACP has lodged a complaint with the City, and UVa Dean of African American Studies Rick Turner has accused Williams of allowing himself to be exploited; Williams says that he just wants to remind people of the true history of Charlottesville, rather than pretend that it never happened. Courteney Stuart has the story in today’s Hook, Anson Parker has a write-up on CvilleIndyMedia, and a video (180MB) of the goings-on is available.

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