How this plant reflects the history of Antabel

“From a human point of view, it is difficult to get out of the shadows of plants to get recognition for our community’s needs,” said Dr. Joy Banner, communications director at the Whitney Plant Museum in Edgar, Louisiana. She was a slave who worked hard at St. John the Baptist Parish, 54 miles (54 km) between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. This beautiful place has often become a tourist destination for architects and gardeners alike, who often look back on the past, the occasional or the distant past of colonial oppression. The Whitney Plant Museum is one of only two plant farms dedicated to the life, energy and culture of the enslaved people in the region and in the country.

Courtesy of Whitney Plant Museum

A.D. Bradish Johnson bought the farm in 1867 and changed the site for his grandchildren (their last name was Whitney). When John Kumings bought the property about 30 years ago, he did not know that the investment would turn into a trans-Atlantic slave trade. Banner told him, “He seems to be the owner of a rich southern man and a farm owned by a rich southern man. So he was part of the real estate portfolio, but when he bought the property and did research on slavery, he came across documents that showed the image of slavery he taught – legal and other.

The white Kumming has finally spent nearly $ 10 million on this private rehabilitation project to educate people about slavery on 2,000 hectares of farmland. A.D. When he retired in 2019, he donated a 501c (3) non-profit agricultural museum with a large African-American board. The site now has 16 historic buildings and two original slave huts. Before the civil war, there were 22 such cabinets.

Previously owned, most of the cabinets and buildings were occupied by Doldo for the production of sugar cane sugar and later for resale. Today, industrialization has complicated the process of calculating property values ​​along the Mississippi River, but Dr. Sandek explained that the museum’s challenges are great. She said, “The main house is from 1791,” so this is an expensive operation. But we want as many people as possible to come to the site and learn. ”

“This is not a home visit.”

My first knowledge of Whitney’s approach came in 2019 when I visited the plant during an intensive research tour of New Orleans to study the impact of European-American colonies on European colonies. I arrived very pregnant and arrived, and I did not know that the museum’s historic vision was that the historians and staff management records were on the site through the eyes of slaves who lived and worked there. The Freeman Church, moved from a nearby parish to the courtyard, serves as a center for historical interpretation. As they entered, I could hardly take my eyes off the baby statues in the room. Finally, a volunteer tour guide gave us cards that I had received months earlier when I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. They gave birth to names and short biographies of slaves who once lived on a farm. Later, my tour group was given the opportunity to move an Ohio-based artist, Woodrow Nash, into a clay pot. For five-year-olds and 15-year-olds, we continued to visit the rest of our lives.

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Memory in the compound provides screenshots from archive documents to some revelations. Details of name, age, and vague origins are engraved on the black granite in the Tower of Glory, once for all those who were once slaves on the farm. In short, the Gwendoline Midlo Hall, the focal point of decades of archeological excavations, is best known as the “Louisiana Slave Database.”

I found myself engrossed in reading stories from the 1800’s. I was interrupted by the sound of distant bells ringing. As the tour progressed, we were invited to call on my visiting team whenever we wanted to acknowledge these ancestors. The guide explained that these bells were designed as clocks that required slaves to rush to a certain place or work.

“This is not just a historical place where people can come and see a house,” said Dr. Sandek. “This is not a home visit, it teaches people about slavery. Here it is to remember those who were forced to work and die. So the memories are more modern, but they have become a very powerful feature of this site.

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Included in my memory is the Message Field Memorial, where I sniffed my stomach in bitterness and grief. A bronze statue has been erected by Rod Murdig Coming home A black angel portrays a baby in the sky. While I was there, the statue was surrounded by benches with small dolls. In the course of the discussion, the new and old memories highlighted how important and powerful Whitney’s work was, especially in a country that was often trying to dig into the unpleasant parts of the past. “Children are not immune to cruelty, imprisonment, and slavery,” Dr. Sandek recalled. Children’s representation is a way to connect with people, to soften their hearts, and to open their eyes.

Whitney’s website reads:

Deaths on Louisiana cane farms were relatively high compared to cotton or tobacco farms. Many children have died of disease, but some have died of lightning, drowning, or burns. Eucharist records from the Archdiocese of New Orleans also show the prevalence of young mothers and the high mortality rate among their children. This is also reflected in the Whitney plant, which shows that some women have taken their first slaves at the age of 14. Thirty-nine children died at Whitney Plant during the period described in this monument in 1823-1863, almost once a year. Only six are five years old.

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In this way, no matter how brutal the museum is, it is remarkable for its unbroken emphasis on local history. One of the new monuments highlights the Haitian Revolution in 1811 at St. John the Baptist Church. Banner: “Most people do not realize that we have a big rebellion,” says Banner. This happened in our backyard. Therefore, it was important for people to understand geographically that this was in the middle of the so-called “plant country” in the region.

They fought for the same freedom that the Americans fought for in 1776.

According to the banner, the history of slavery points to an important part: “In my opinion, slavery came with the same resilience as slavery.” I call the participants revolutionary. They fought for the same freedom that the Americans fought for in 1776.

“It is important that people understand what happened,” he said. “The monument is not as hidden as people often say, but it shows how long people have gone to protect the institution of slavery. It shows their level of heroism and their level of resistance. Although unsuccessful, the two-year plan was very strategic. They have accomplished much in the system of slavery. It is a testament to their bravery.

Whitney Museum of Plants, Hands Up Slave Statue

Courtesy of Whitney Plant Museum

Whitney Plant Museum, a slave girl holding a baby, a statue of angels with wings

Courtesy of Whitney Plant Museum

The impact of a physical visit is unparalleled, but the museum is in line with COVID-19 facts. Virtual programs for jeters and other events have seen strong online availability, especially for people living across the Louisiana border. In this way, despite the general decline in tourism over the past year, the digital footprint has continued and expanded to new audiences. However, there are still natural tensions over the need to preserve these areas of income, as do many other slave sites near the Atlantic Ocean.

When I asked Dr. Sandek for her views, she had difficulty speaking. “A double-edged sword is tourism,” she began. “These farms have created our historical problems, but they are one of the things that awaits us, for example. Historic farms and sugarcane fields, which we try to legally protect, are a form of protection against excessive industrial development. She points out that it is directly linked to the controversial historical “plant country” that is the center of many racist protests throughout Louisiana and the River Basin. Although tourism and vegetation are in conflict in this region, she said, many races are not really a priority for the people who live and work on these lands today.

Learning about slavery and its history goes beyond this plant.

Although the Whitney Museum does not currently focus on compensation, the institution is strongly encouraged by social justice. The board of the museum is currently trying to thwart efforts by Dr. Sendek to build a 300-foot-tall building from a neighboring plant that could cause asthma-causing cereals. “I am of Whitney descent and a native of this area. I still live here, ”she said emotionally. “I want to have more genealogical businesses. Many major issues are being addressed, but people are focusing not on the people but on plants or tourism.

Whitney Plant Museum, save statues in the church, save slave children

Courtesy of Whitney Plant Museum

One of the main reasons they visit the flag is: human trafficking, child labor, environmental justice, minority rights, and the African-American power — he hopes to win the Whitney honor. Spend some time reading about at least one topic online and I assure you that what is happening here and the challenges that human beings face today will lead to open-minded, meaningful experiences. Learning about slavery and its history is something that should go beyond this plant.

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Nafesah Allen is an independent researcher interested in literature, gender and diaspora studies in the South. She completed her PhD in 2019. Forced migration from the University of the Witrsburg University in Johannesburg, South Africa. She runs, a book review website that highlights international black stories organized by language, theme, and country. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @theblaxpat.

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