Ani DiFranco planned to host "Righteous Retreat", a four-night event for exchanging ideas and making music, at the Nottoway Plantation and Resort in White Castle, Louisiana. However, the singer has canceled the retreat after several people voiced outrage over the location of the event.
Nottoway Plantation and Resort once housed hundreds of slaves under brutal conditions. A Change.org petition organized with a view to canceling the retreat quickly gathered 2,500 signatures.
After a massive public outcry, DiFranco announced the cancellation on her website. "I did not imagine or understand that the setting of a plantation would trigger such collective outrage or result in so much high velocity bitterness," she wrote.
"I imagined instead that the setting would become a participant in the event. This was doubtless to be a gathering of progressive and engaged people, so I imagined a dialogue would emerge organically over the four days about the issue of where we were," she continued.
"I obviously underestimated the power of an evocatively symbolic place to trigger collective and individual pain," she added. "I believe that your energy and your questioning are needed in this world. I know that the pain of slavery is real and runs very deep and wide. However, in this incident I think is very unfortunate what many have chosen to do with that pain. I cancel the retreat now because I wish to restore peace and respectful discourse between people as quickly as possible."
"I entreat you to refocus your concerns and comments on this matter with positive energy and allow us now to work together towards common ground and healing," she said. She does not plan to reschedule the retreat.