July 16, 2020 https://popularresistance.org/asheville-approves-reparations-for-black-residents/ When I began the Rue Project in 1996 it didn't occur to me that it related to reparation. In1999 it evolved as a personal expression from me to other white women like me whom I hoped would contribute an expression of their own. One day I remarked to Iris Rinke-Hammer, a German artist who contributed a powerful performance piece of repentance about Nazi fascism, "if we persist with this repentance thing, we are going to have to deal with questions about reparations some day." Hmmm, she replied something like, "not having to do that was why the German princes supported Luther."
The Labyrinth of Rue is the title of a series of installations and performances by Birmingham and Atlanta white women between 1996 and 2002. The public police execution of George Floyd performed before police trainees and bystanders, one of whom filmed it, sharpens the imperative that WE (White Europeans) acknowledge and pay the price of reparations for centuries of violent extraction of wealth from POC (People of Color). For the present, and if you are willing, please participate by posting or commenting on the facebook group Woman's Work Goes On; or if you are not a member of the group, comment on a link posted there. I respond to comments that show up in notifications. --Peggy Powell Dobbins.
It is a one mile walk from the tomb of Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King
to the graves that surround the Confederate Memorial
erected in the middle of Oakland Cemeteryby the Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association(ALMA) in 1866.
In 1999, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter
fell on April 4, the day Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.
That year, a dozen white Southern women, including 2
members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, planted
"A Labyrinth of Rue for pil-
grim ages to repent
For sons and sweethearts who'd been sent to die, and too, to kill.
For evil is dead spirit's face refusing death until buried with dignity and grace.
Yet grace awaits them still. For grace awaits repentence for the sins that purchase pride and dignity now, as before, the sin filled price denied.
A Maze engraves how swains 'tho sons to slaves are wrought by greed. Renounce and lose but naught to save thy soul, Repair thy creed."
July 16, 2020. Best educational sum up I've seen onwhy so many Americans are defending the confederate flag, monuments, and statues right now, JIM GOLDENput together a quick Q&A, with questions from a hypothetical person with misconceptions and answers from his perspective as an AP U.S. History Teacher
Mary Norwood, watering Labyrinth of Rue April 4, 1999
April 4, 2020: Facebook's algorithm's are amazing. A picture of Mary Norwood watering Rue plants April 4, 1999, popped up when I opened my computer yesterday. I had begun a letter the day before to my Congressman, John Lewis who is very ill and was before the virus. I want his blessing to have the Rue Bricks relaid along a Path for Pilgrimages of Repentance between Coretta and Dr. King's tomb and graves of men who died for the Lost Cause of slavery. I worked on the Rue Project from 1996 to 2002 in Atlanta.
Background of the Rue Project
I worked on the Rue Project from October 1996 until November 2, 2002
In Birmingham I had begun organizing a Children’s Service in 1987 as part of SCLC’s Celebration of Dr. King’s Birthday becoming a national holiday. We wanted to realize Dr. King's Dream "that someday, down in Birmingham, little Black children and litte white children would join hands." Black churches brought busloads of children to hold out their hand.
But there were far too few white children to take them. The Reform Synagogue sent a group, but most of the few white children were brought by parents I had recruited one by one.
Puzzling on how to get white Christian churches to participate in an annual civic observation — for the Sunday of Labor Day closest to September 15, the day Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley were killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church by the Ku Klux Klan, I began to imagine the following:
The adult and children's choirs from at least one black church and at least one white church, coming through the streets of downtown Birmingham,singing stanzas of Amazing Grace in call and response, to meet at the foot washing pond in Kelly Ingram Park, across from 16th Baptist Church where the children were killed.
As each black adult and child meet each white adult and child on the bridge crossing the pond, each little white child gives each black adult flowers of Rue (for repentance); each little black child gives the white adult flowers of Loosestrife (forgiveness). Then they re-pair, black and white children, black and white adults to finish the pilgrimage down the walk, across the street, into 16th St Baptist Church for an ecumenical ceremony many faith leaders had participated in since 1987, but not their children.
No one, Black or white whom I approached, ever indicated it wasn't a good idea. But no one ever volunteered to help, much less to talk to their choir master.
We moved to Berkeley in 1993 and came back South in 1996, this time to Atlanta. One day, trying to tell Glenda Minkin why I wanted to try again, I'd said "while Catholics have confession, Jews' highest holy day is for atonement, and Muslims devote a whole month to repentance, the only ritual path provided in the religion of white protestant slave owners and their heirs is 'The General Confession’; and it is so general it covers everything from forgetting to write a thank you note to throwing your fellow humans into the bowels of a ship to survive in their urine and feces." (The General Confession is in the Episcopal prayer book -- my father's side. My mother's side, Presbyterian predestination, is even better adapted to guilt denial) Glenda, who is Jewish, replied, not exactly in these words, but this is the import I recall: "Peggy, when you enter the path of Atonement, there is no guarantee you will be forgiven, and certainly no little white gal who just wanted to be part of The Movement is going to choreograph when and how black people choose to forgive."
So, I set out to find a path to confess the racism I'd recognised in myself and to express repentance for the fruits of racism I continue to receive as racism continues to mutate; and to get other white southern women I knew who'd made efforts to free themselves from racism, to join me. Instead of competing with each other to prove to our black friends how anti-racist we were, we would make a path for other whites to admit and renounce racism by admitting and renouncing our own.
I did not have making Reparation on my mind in 1996, nor 2002. I think that tells how far I still had, and have yet, to go. It merely opened my heart to the idea that reconciliation requires reparation, something beyond expression of repentence for and acknowledgment of wrong. It also forced me to accept that it is not for me to say what constitutes reparation, nor how, when and where it is made.
I do not think I am alone. Commitment to anti-racism is not the same as being freed from racism if you're white, any more than winning victories against racism frees you from being a victim of racism if you're Black. The most that making a pilgrimage of rue, ie of repentance, can do is "renounce the sins that purchase pride and dignity NOW as before." This means quit denying that they are sins. Confess. Try to repair one's soul by repairing the consequences suffered by others of greed that one's ancestors' creed justified, minimised, and overlooked as easily as an unwritten thank you.
Maybe it's about time I think of Reparations as long overdue I.O.U. thank you notes. Taking note of some specifics of what for, for rather far more than "a lovely evening. the charlotte russe was to die for" Renoucing precludes erasing. And if you erase, you can never repair.
July 5, 2020 My thinking has been changing since I wrote the above. See later.
In 1999, April 4, the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, fell on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. 1999 marked 2000 years of Christian meditation linking crucifixion to resurrection.
That year, 12 white Southern women from Birmingham and Atlanta planted a Labyrint of Rue, for pilgrimages of repentance just inside the gate of Oakland Cemetery, where the Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association, precursor of the Daughters of the Confederacy had obtained permission from the Union Army to rebury soldiers killed in the Battle of Atlana in 1864
June 6, 2020 facebook exchange under image of Confederate monument being torn down in Birmingham
Charles Frederick I think there should be a penny campaign like there was for the statue of liberty base, for school children to contribute towards to pay the illicit fine
Peggy Powell Dobbins that was sort of my initial thought. did you see it on Thanasis Nicolau page? The way you put it is M U C H better. You might be interested to learn, as I was, that my son (white) who still lives in Birmingham thinks keeping reminders of how bad w…See More Charles Frederick Peggy Powell Dobbins just shows how much work we have to do with the public education system. They have reproduced white supremacy over every available point of cultural production. (I did not see this elsewhere. The idea must--like many at the moment-- be in the air.) Peggy Powell DobbinsCharles Frederick, yep. I really want to get those Rue bricks [rubrics] I engraved for the Labyrinth of Rue <http://peggydobbins.net/labyrinthofrue.html> white women fromAtlanta and Birmingham laid to acknowledge "the sins that purchased [their] pride and dignity" etc. , but were removed by naive racists after the mayor changed, relaid before I die. I want to imagine archeologists finding them a few centuries hence. I feel selfish wanting to stay focussed on that effort now, even tho I know the cultural journey to freedom from white supremacy includes white us women consciously renouncing (I think that term is accurate, not sure) what they must (the list of what Amy knew she could get away with calling 911 on the black guy who asked her to leash her dog). Just venting to someone I think will understand, not asking you to do white woman's work. Charles Frederick Ah, the day when the comprehensive, truthful history about every one can be told, because the complex human story is the only one worth telling--but hopefully it can include: once upon a time, the earth was full of warring nation states, each with a different myth of origin, hurting with error, and in the iron grip of the ancient controls of patriarchy, and the bewildering changing tales of classes in "rightful" unequal order, and the massive existential falsehood of there being different "races" with a natural ontology based on something which had no evidence of existing at all. Come, children, listen to how, this wild tale almost brought us all to our termination, our disappearance (even the memory of us) from existence. Peggy Powell DobbinsCharles Frederick 😍🦹♂️🦹♀️👏👏👏👘🐘. so couldn't find perfect emoji for beloved Griot. And I want the children to be bringing the bricks to him to help them decipher.
My son gave me Coates' book of essays a couple of Christmases ago (2018) It's still on my bedstand. Not because I revisit it frequently, but because I barely skimmed it and think I should It included his 2014 essay in the Atlantic on Reparations. People often cite it. I just clicked and skimmed that again.
I joined C.U.R.E.(Caucasians United for Reparation and Emancipation) on-line for a few years after the big 2002 Pilgrimage of Rue that ended in the ecumenical ceremony at the Ebenezer Baptist Church that is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Saudia Muwwakkil helped us get permission to hold the ceremony there. She was still employed by the National Park Service to do public relations for the center.It meant a lot to La Donna Smith who composed a Chorale for Repentence to premier it there. Her Chorale includes the verse I added to Amazing Grace. That meant a lot to me. More than half the participants in the pilgrimage walk were members of the Birminhgam Women's Chorus that La Donna leads.
This essay from the pespective of black children of white children's mammies hit me, inescapably, as neither Coates nor CURE had. Whether or not anything I add here proves moving or insightful to anyone who happens upon it, the best lesson I recommend taking from it, I was taught by Marion Woods, Black Preacher's Wife to Birmingham SCLC chair, Dr. Abraham Woods. It's well known and practiced by all good organizers, but as an organizee rather than organizer, I recommend tracing the methodology to black preachers' wives. "If you want people to show up, give them a role to perform." That's why there are so many choirs at Movement rallies.
When I was growing up, white in the South (Texas, Ark, La, 1938 - 68) my primary positive bond with African-Americans was with black women who cooked and cleaned for white women and helped care for their children. I'm sure that was true of every white I knew. I may come back and insert examples.
updated Aug 27,2021 Now back in Atlanta. Working with Donna Stephens as member of Chattahoochee Brick Company Descendants Coalition she spearheads and Board of FFRN (Fund For Reparations Now, composed of whites in different parts of US who raise funds for reparation projects authenticated as reparation and assigned to us by NAARC (National African American Reparation Commission, pending passage of H.R. 40. Please feel free to use anything on my site and I'll be honored if you do; but if you do, please cite Peggy Dobbins and include a link to peggydobbins.net