Lecturer in Dance Dyane Harvey-Salaam and students in her course “The American Dance Experience and Africanist Dance Practices” welcome Chief Ayanda Clarke for a collective Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony honoring James Collins Johnson and the naming of the easternmost East Pyne Archway for him. Mr. Johnson, whose story was unearthed and shared through the Princeton & Slavery Project, was a fugitive from Maryland who worked on campus for more than 60 years, first as a janitor and then for many years as a vendor of fruits, candies and other snacks that he sold from a wheelbarrow. When he died in 1902, alumni and students purchased a headstone for him in Princeton cemetery, and inscribed an epitaph that described him as “the students friend.” Last April the University Trustees accepted a recommendation to name the archway for Johnson. The ceremony to be led by Chief Ayanda (a highly respected Babalawo who was initiated to Ifa in Yorubaland, Nigeria), will include a traditional sacred ritual that will uplift the space, honor Mr. Johnson’s unique life and sacrifices, and pay homage to the spirit of the ancestors through African dance, music, and prayers.
Presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance in collaboration with the Campus Iconography Committee and the Princeton & Slavery Project.