First US Museum Dedicated To Slave History Has Opened On A Louisiana Plantation
Slavery officially ended some 150 years ago here in the US, but there has never been a museum dedicated to the controversial, complex history of slavery. Until now.
A Louisiana plantation has now been reborn as this country’s first slavery museum. And it only seems fitting that it be housed in a plantation. By 1860, there were four million slaves in America, nearly 60 percent of whom worked on cotton plantations.
The slavery museum was prompted by a private effort. New Orleans businessman John Cummings, who is white, spent 15 years and more than $8 million of his own money in order to turn the Whitney Plantation into a museum.
Cummings is also purchasing other locations that are important in slave history. He recently bought an old Baptist church in New Orleans that was previously owned by freed enslaved people back in 1867. And has Cummings paid to have the church moved across the Mississippi to restore it. All at a cost of $300,000.
The Whitney Plantation Museum opened its doors on Dec. 7. There are several artifacts in the museum.
“Seven cabins that once served as homes for the enslaved Black people are still standing along a dusty path and the massive iron kettles that were once used to boil sugar cane give visitors a glimpse into the labor intensive days that enslaved people spent on the property,” reports The New York Times Magazine, which ran a massive feature on the new museum. A jail were slaves were punished is even still there.
The museums won’t be of the faint hearted. You will be able to view some gruesome realities of slavery.
“Like everyone else, you’re probably wondering what the rich white boy has been up to out here,” John Cummings said as he addressed the crowd that attended the museum’s opening.
“I suppose it is a suspicious thing, what I’ve gone and done with the joint,” he added, addressing his decision to “spend millions I have no interest in getting back” to create the museum and restore the plantation. “I’ve been asked all the questions. About white guilt this and that. About the honky trying to profit off slavery. But here’s the thing: Don’t you think the story of slavery is important?”