Speak. Step. Teach. ✊🏽
When we lost the right to use our drums we turned to our bodies as our primary percussive instruments. These percussive movements gave rise to some of our most distinctive art forms, including the ring shout, tap, hambone, and stepping. Stepping is a highly energetic percussive art form rich with song and dance rituals performed in large part by African-American fraternities and sororities.
The videos here are from Step Afrika!'s 2020 virtual performance series entitled "STONO." @stepafrika, a professional dance company based in Washington, D.C., connected the dots between the stepping of today and the history of freedom fighting that our ancestors embodied during The Stono Rebellion of 1739. STONO continues to honor the spirit of African resistance and activism that remains a critical part of American freedom.
The Stono Rebellion began on September 9 in South Carolina on the banks of the Stono River. As the largest revolt of enslaved Africans in North America, the rebellion baffled colonial officials in South Carolina and sent fear through the American colonies. This bold act of survival led to the creation of The Negro Act of 1740, making it illegal for the next 125 years for enslaved Africans to move abroad, assemble in groups, raise or grow food, earn money, and learn to write.
Step Afrika! promotes stepping as an educational tool for young people, focusing on teamwork, academic achievement, and cross-cultural understanding. Follow instagram.com/stepafrika to see how they help tell our peoples' stories. Their most recent performance celebrates the courage of the Little Rock Nine of 1957.