The juxtaposition between these cultural demonstrations and the Lost Cause narrative symbolized by the statues was what stuck with her.
“That intersection is the most powerful thing I think that came out of my time when I was there. I had white kids, everybody of every age group and every background to the thousands, singing the song to open the portal that comes from West Africa,” she said.
“So it is the transference of our traditions — that’s the most important thing that I saw happen there, is that we began to have a new audience for this stuff. We began to weave African cultural traditions and spirituality into spaces that were created to be toxic and undermining to Black people.”
Criqui, who for so many nights since June has sat on the peripheries of the Lee monument and observed the ongoing demonstrations as he and Klein’s art illuminated the area, said he saw the gradual evolution in the spirit of the space referenced by Egunfemi Bangura.
“I think over the course of time, the natural beauty of what this city is about just grew out there,” Criqui said.
“And what was initially about outrage and mourning, while it always stays centered around that because unfortunately these tragedies don’t stop happening, really turned into a celebration of Black life in America, Black culture, and all the things that are indispensable to our national identity in relation to what Black people have given this nation.”