Sunday, April 21, 2019

Four Video Examples Of Winnsboro Easter Rock ceremonies (A little known African American religious tradition)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part pancocojams series on "Easter Rock", an African American religious tradition that was -and to a much more limited extent-is still performed in Louisiana.

Part II showcases four YouTube videos of Winnsboro Easter Rock ceremonies, the only remaining Easter Rock ceremony.

Click for Part I of this pancocojams series. Part I presents a long excerpt from a 2013 Louisiana Folklife Center article about research on Easter Rock ceremonies.

The content of this post is presented for religious, historical, folkloric, and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who participate in Easter Rock ceremonies. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

I had happened upon this article and some videos of Easter Rock last year and meant to feature them in this pancocojams blog on Easter. However, I had forgotten about that tradition until I (somehow) happened upon YouTube videos of Jamaican Revivalism "thanksgiving tables"*. The customs of dancing around a table lit with candles reminded me of something I had read-although my vague memory was that the way these Revivalism tables were set up, and the dancing itself isn't (always) the same or might have been completely different from what I thought I remembered reading about a Southern African American tradition. I didn't remember that the tradition was called "Easter Rock" until I read down through my Windows lists that I had written as background notes to possible pancocojams posts.

A pancocojams post that showcases some videos of Jamaican Revivalism "thanksgiving tables" will be published ASAP and that link will be added here. People who are interested may then see why those videos reminded me of WInnsboro Easter Rock.

*Jamaican Revivalism's "thanksgiving tables" aren't associated in any way to the annual Thanksgiving holiday that is celebrated in the United States and elsewhere.

Disclaimer: I don't know if there is any connection between Winnsboro Easter Rock ceremonies and Jamaican Revivalism's thanksgiving tables or any other aspect of Jamaican Revivalism. If any folklorists has considered this possibility, I'd love to know about their research.

From By Susan Roach
In Memory of Ellen Addison
"One of the most spectacular folk traditions documented for the Delta Folklife Project, Easter Rock, an Easter eve vigil ceremony, commemorates the death and resurrection of Christ.2 Easter Rock belongs to the category of traditional events called "rocks" associated with the old plantation churches (usually Baptist) in the Mississippi Delta floodplain of north Louisiana and has much in common with other African American religious ring shout traditions, according to Janet Sturman (1993: 24) and Joyce Jackson (2006).3 While the tradition is said to reach back to the antebellum period in Louisiana, today only one group appears to be continuing this Louisiana Delta tradition: the Winnsboro Easter Rock Ensemble, as the group named itself for performances of the tradition in state and national folklife festivals."...

Video #1: Winnsboro Easter Rock

dooney05, Published on Apr 8, 2012
This video was uploaded from an Android phone.

Video #2: Winnsboro Easter Rock Part 2

dooney05, Published on Apr 8, 2012

This video was uploaded from an Android phone.

Video #3: Easter Rock Ceremony 2013

LouisianaHumanities, Published on Mar 16, 2015

A video of an Easter Rock ceremony in Winnsboro, 2013.

Video #4: The Winnsboro Easter Rock Ensemble

Louisiana Folklife Center, Published on Oct 24, 2017 [57:24 minutes]

Winnsboro Easter Rock Ensemble narrative session and performance with Hattie Addison. The performance was introduced by folklorist Dr. Susan Roach, an expert on Delta Culture. Dr. Roach also led a post-performance discussion of the rare Easter eve vigil ritual tradition dating from the antebellum period and the Easter Rock tradition in Louisiana African American churches and a question answer session. This project was sponsored by a grant from the Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative of the National Park Service. Recorded Saturday July 15, 2017 at the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival.
The narrator in this video indicates that "Easter Rock" was an ante-bellum ritual, meaning that it occurred before the Civil War.

This concludes Part II of this two part pancocojams series on Easter Rock ceremonies.

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