Guns to Shovels Ceremonies
April 6th, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
We held two participatory guns-to-shovels ceremonies in Atlanta where we invited community members into the transformation of 50 guns into 50 shovels. On April 4th, the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, we held a guns-to-shovel ceremony at The King Center where we delivered a weapon to Dr. King’s daughter and CEO of The King Center, Bernice King - her first time holding a gun. She then processed to a furnace to deliver the weapon to our metal casting artist Jim Brenner to be transformed into a shovel. Mothers directly impacted by gun violence also joined us to share their stories and experiences. Kai Koerber and Tyah-Amoy Roberts, black youth who were victims of the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school were also present to share their stories - specifically in the ways their experiences, in the larger reverberations of gun violence against black folks, has been ignored and silenced in the midst of other white and white-appearing students voices being privileged. Their presence asked whose children's cries do we choose to hear, whose lives do we prioritize in the face of horror, who calls us to move, to say #neveragain?
On Friday, April 6th, 2018, we held a public ceremony for over 100 people in an empty lot off of Auburn Ave, a block away from The King Center. Drums and music held the heart of the space.Corrina Sephora, local Atlanta blacksmith transformed a gun barrel into art through a participatory performance with folks who were present. Mothers and families directly impacted by gun violence shared their stories - including the families of X’avier Arnold,Jamarion Robinson,Robby Poblete and Jayvis Benjamin. One by one, family members delivered guns to the furnace to be transformed by metal casting artist Jim Brenner and his team. The shovels read, “As we decompose violence, may the earth again be free.” The backs of the shovels have inscriptions to honor those we have lost to state violence. Such as “Giving breath in honor of Eric and Erica Garner”, “Giving breath in honor of Marielle Franco”, “Giving breath in honor of Jamarion Robinson.” Our shovels honor those lost to state violence - we use them to replant an earth that protects, honors and loves black folks.