Growing up, I’ve always learned about slavery in my history classes, but it’s never enough, not until you actually experience it yourself but let me tell you this, it is still not enough.
Prior to traveling to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras, Stacey and I had researched on what else to see and do out there. Once we learned about Whitney Plantation, we knew we just had to take this opportunity.
Interesting Facts about Slaves and Whitney Plantation:
- Whitney Plantation is the first and only museum in America that focus primarily on slavery.
- John Cummings, a founder, has spent over 8 million dollars of his own money to restore and built this plantation within a 16 years period. It was first opened in December 2014.
- Slavery were first introduced in Louisiana during the 17th century. Indentured servants (poorer class of Europeans) were first used for labor but then replaced by Africans since they are cheaper labor.
- Federal Writers’ Projects were formed in the 1930s by Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression, where they went and interviewed former slaves. Many of their bios and stories are shared here in Whitney Plantation. Most of them are survivors and were children slaves since slavery ended after the Civil War.
- Slaves were not allowed to practice their own religions. They must follow according to their owners. They must meet secretly in forests.
When we first arrived to Whitney Plantation, we entered the visitor’s center where we were given our badges that had an enslaved child along with their biography as we patiently waited to meet our tour guide.
Our first stop was at Antioch Baptist Church, where we had watched a video and got to see many statues of enslaved children.
We were taken to the memorial where it contained 107,000 names of slaves and some stories, which was found by the Freedom Writers’ Project.
The big bowls in front of the slaves quarters are used for making sugar canes. The slaves would be outside all day long, processing sugar canes even during the heat.
We got to see the inside of a small slave quarter, which contained a bed where 4 to 5 slaves would sleep together and a chimney where they would cook their food. They don’t normally have beds, so they usually sleep on a sheet on the floor.
One of the interesting information that our tour guide shared with us: the slaves usually work out in the field picking sugar canes or processing it inside the big bowl for 16 to 18 hours. So sometimes, they would leave their food to cook inside the chimney while they were out. However, that causes fires and can burn down the slaves quarters. So a few slaves that stayed home to cook food, they would share with all the slaves as a community.
We were then introduced to the iron jail cell where they had held slaves inside. Our tour guide informed us that they normally fit in about 45 people in one cell. I just couldn’t believe it when she said that! They normally held slaves inside before they are auctioned off to their future owners. When I walked inside the cell, it was quite chilling. I had goosebumps just thinking of the tiny space inside. I can’t even imagine them standing and sitting inside in the heat.
Noted: Through research, I had learned that these jail cells were also used to punish slaves if they had tried to run away so they had to wait for owners to “buy” them out.
Our last stop was where we got to see the inside of the Big House where the owners lived. It was a quite a big difference! The Big House contained many furnitures and decorations along with huge bedrooms.
Prior to attending Whitney Plantation, we had contacted ahead of time to see if we could request an interpreter. However, it was explained that it was hard for them to get an interpreter due to the remote area, so they were willing to accommodate us through a written script of the tour. This was helpful; however, this may not be suitable for nor preferred by some Deafs and Hard of Hearings. Although the scripts did not necessary include every information that they talk about during the tour, luckily for us, our tour guide was very understanding and was very patient with us. She was very accommodating by answering all of our written questions, making sure we followed along and know where we were at. We used gestures and written notes to communicate.
Even though, our tour guide did the best she could do to make sure we got everything we needed from our tour, it was still difficult, because we had to look back and forth from the script to the tour. In addition, the people in our group (who also participated the tour) asked questions, and the tour guide shared more information and stories, which we missed some new information. So it is our recommendation to get an interpreter, because it would make things so much easier, more accessibility. We provided guideline how to accommodate with Deaf and Hard of Hearing and how to find local interpreter agencies, which we believe it will be very beneficial to them for future Deaf and Hard of Hearing visitors.
There are a lot more to this plantation, but we really didn’t want to spoil it for our readers. Pictures doesn’t do justice, it’s something that every Americans and others must experience themselves. The fact that it is the first and only museum that focuses on slavery makes it a one of a kind experience. Don’t just read about history, explore and live through the history.
Address: 5099 Louisiana 18, Wallace, LA 70049
Admission: $22 for adults (Discounted prices of $15 available for military, students and senior citizens) and Free for children under the age of 12.
Special thank you to Ashley Rogers for providing the written script for us and our tour guide D’Lawn for accommodating with us.
Disclaimer: Despite the exchange for an honest review and providing feedback how to service the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, everything is based on our own opinions.