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17th Annual Gabriel Forum set for Oct. 8 at the African Burial Ground

10/4/2019, 6 a.m.
A public forum and the debut of a new dance work next week will call attention to Gabriel, the Richmond ...

A public forum and the debut of a new dance work next week will call attention to Gabriel, the Richmond man who organized the area’s largest slave revolt, and the African Burial Ground in Downtown where he was executed after the 1800 uprising for freedom failed.

The 17th Annual Gabriel Forum will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the burial ground at 16th and Broad streets. Among the speakers will be Pamela Bingham, a descendent of Gabriel, and Dr. Ram Bhagat, founder of Drums No Guns, who will speak on cultural healing.

The program also will include Joseph S.H. Rogers’ re-enactment of the life of his family member, James Fields, who escaped from slavery at age 16 and rose to represent Hanover County in the House of Delegates after the Civil War.

The program also will include a discussion of the struggle of Union Hill, a black community in Buckingham County, against a Dominion Energy pipeline. The discussion will be led by Richard Walker, founder of Bridging the Gap in Virginia and a fifth generation member of a land-owning family in Union Hill.

The Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality and its Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project are sponsoring the event that is free and open to the public.

The forum will be followed by the premier of the dance work, “Brother General Gabriel,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, also at the burial ground.

The program is free and open to the public.

Part of the University of Richmond’s Tucker-Boatwright Festival of Literature and the arts, the performance is the work of Richmond-based choreographer MK Abadoo and history strategist and Untold RVA founder Free Egunfemi, who is co-directing.

According to the festival, the work is a commemorative justice piece that seeks to call up Gabriel’s now invisible army in a bid to transform the unmarked gallows that once stood on the site where he and others were hanged.

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