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Scars on the Land: Slavery and the environment in the American South [extract]
Whitney Plantation museum tells the history of slavery in America through authentic buildings and the stories of enslaved people

If you want a unique and eye-opening experience, visit the Whitney Plantation outside New Orleans. This is not your typical plantation museum that glorifies the owners and their wealth. This museum tells the stories of enslaved people who lived and died on the plantation.

The Whitney Plantation, originally opened in 1752, was one of the largest sugar plantations in Louisiana. It was also one of the most brutal places for enslaved people, who endured harsh conditions, violence, and disease. The museum, which opened in 2014, aims to honor their memory and educate the public about the realities of slavery.

Unlike other plantation museums, the Whitney Plantation does not have any furniture or artifacts from the owners. Instead, it has sculptures, memorials, and exhibits depicting enslaved people’s lives. You can see the slave quarters, the sugar kettles, the whipping post, and the slave cemetery. You can also hear the names and stories of some of the 350 people who were enslaved on the plantation based on oral histories and archival records.

One of the most powerful features of the museum is the Wall of Honor, which lists the names of all the enslaved people who lived on the plantation, along with their origin, age, and occupation. Another is the Field of Angels, commemorating the children who died before their third birthday. The museum also has a church that was built by freed slaves in 1867, which serves as a place of reflection and worship.

The Whitney Plantation is more than just a museum. It is a place of learning and healing. It challenges us to confront the history and legacy of slavery in America. It also inspires us to fight for justice and equality for all people.