All-Female Drummers Lead Procession Through Harlem To Honor Our Ancestors

October 30, 2020

On Saturday, October 31, 2020, at Noon, The Healing Drum Collective and Batalá will lead an all-female drumming processional and walk to honor our Ancestors.

Also, persons who lost their lives to COVID-19 this year, particularly, Black and Latina women, who lost their lives due to domestic violence (as this is Domestic Violence Awareness month, police killings, and during childbirth).

This walk will occur on Saturday, October 31st at noon and will begin at the Harlem State Office Building and end at 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue. This is the site where the statue of J. Marion Sims was removed based on community protests that spanned ten years. In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio convened the Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers, and in 2018, the Sims statue was voted on and removed.

We will honor the memories of Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy, the enslaved African American women who were brutalized by Sims’ numerous vagina surgeries. We will also support the artist Vinnie Bagwell (confirmed) whose artwork “Victory” was selected by the community to replace Sims.

Other drummers and musicians have been invited to join and play at the Harlem State Office Building, however, only women drummers will walk. Participants have been reminded to wear white, wear masks, and bring flowers to lay at the altar.

Participants have been reminded to wear white, wear masks, and bring flowers to lay at the altar.

“The pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Presidential election have given rise to violence, fear, anxiety, and depression. People are on edge and have been left without opportunities to mourn or grieve the loss of their loved ones. Through drumming, song, and fellowship, we aim to provide a space and bring love, light, and healing during this critical time in our history,” Ndigo, The Healing Drum Collective

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“We march to raise awareness to the past and current conditions endured by Black and Latina women in our city, our nation, and our world. We come together to honor our Ancestors and join in our sisterhood to bring forth a new beginning,” Deinya, Director, Batalá

“I am honored to join my Black and Indigenous sisters in celebrating our collective resistance to 528 years of Euro-centric imperialism, slavery, and racist violence — and look forward to reiterating our demand that NYC honor its commitment to Vinnie Bagwell’s artistic vision for our community,” Marina Ortiz, East Harlem Preservation

“In this moment of despair, we stand together as one with our Ancestors. We will be Free! Hay Amor,” Esperanza Martell, Urban Atabex

“Why are women and parents, particularly black women and parents, dying of childbirth complications in the most prosperous and industrialized country in the world? Is it because of structural and institutional racism? Is it because of women not being heard? Not being seen? With this walk we raise these questions. Ironically and fittingly, the destination of our walk takes us to the former site of a memorial that honored a medical butcher cum researcher of the lowest order. We must never ever forget the horrendous experimentation that J. Marion Sims inflicted upon our ancestors, beginning with Anarcha. We must fight with renewed courage to stop the death of black women and parents in childbirth,” Nonkululeko Tyehemba, Midwife, Co-Founder of Harlem Birth Action Committee

“Commitment is what turns promises into reality! It is the triumph of integrity over racism. My deepest gratitude to the community-at-large for their advocacy. I trust the City of New York will make our ‘Victory…’ a reality in 2021,” Vinnie Bagwell, Artist Selected to Replace Sims Statue

“For over 400 years members of the Black community have endured the effects of racism and capitalism in this country. This year, 2020 has heightened inequities in health care, our economy, and increased police killings of unarmed Black men and women. I honor the resiliency of Black women to resist these conditions and serve as vanguards for their families and their communities. I thank the Healing Drum Collective, Batalá, and participating groups for leading this march to continue to bring attention to these matters and offer some degree of healing to counteract the violence,” Council Member Inez Barron

“I send my respectful greetings and solidarity to the Healing Drum Collective, Batalá, and all who have gathered today to honor your Ancestors and those who tragically lost their lives this year due to domestic and police violence. As we know all too well, our society has largely been predicated on violence, and the legacy of these historic injustices continues to ripple through our communities and our lives. It is fitting then that you have gathered at the site where the statue of J. Marion Sims was removed. I was very proud to support the community effort to replace it with something that speaks honestly to the experience of people who were enslaved across this country and honors some of the women on whom Sims experimented. I wish each and every one of you a day of healing and of justice,” Council Member Helen Rosenthal

“As we remember those that have lost their lives this year due to COVID-19, we also take this time to acknowledge survivors of domestic violence and amplify the voices of its victims. Throughout this month we encourage all to seek assistance from experts, advocates, and other professionals. Additionally, as we gather at the future site of the “Victory” art installation we also honor the memory of the enslaved African American women who were so brutally experimented on,” Council Member Diana Ayala

The March starts at Harlem State Office Building, 163 West 125th St & ACP, Jr. Blvd., at time 12 noon and the March ends at 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue at 1 pm EST.

Contact: M. Ndigo Washington, Founder of The Healing Drum Collective, Cell 646.730.6709 and Email:

Marina Ortiz, Director at East Harlem Preservation, Cell: 646.271.6854 and e-mail at

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