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Author Topic: Mechanisms of Prejudice: Hidden and Not Hidden  (Read 12126 times)

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Re: Mechanisms of Prejudice: Hidden and Not Hidden
« Reply #90 on: December 13, 2014, 05:08:55 pm »
Louisiana Plantation Opens as the First Museum Dedicated to the History of American Slavery

by Crystal Shepeard
December 12, 2014
2:30 pm

Martha was one of 16 children. She didn’t grow up with her siblings. Her mother was a slave whose children, fathered by 15 different men, were sold away, including Martha. She is one of thousands of slave children to be memorialized at the Whitney Plantation Museum in Louisiana.

The Whitney Plantation’s history began in 1752 when the land located 35 miles outside of New Orleans, Louisiana was purchased by a German immigrant. Ambroise Heidel made his fortune by turning the property into an indigo plantation. His youngest son, who had changed the spelling of the family name, would switch the Habitation Haydel plantation cash crop to sugar in the early 1800s. It would remain in the family until the late 1800s, when the property was sold after the Civil War. It would later be renamed to the Whitney Plantation, after the new wealthy owner’s youngest grandson.

This week, the Whitney Plantation opened its doors as the first museum dedicated to the history of the slavery in America.

The numerous plantations in Louisiana and across the south are a reminder of a dark time. Many have been restored and also been turned into museums. The history told focuses on the white owners that were part of the economic fabric of the region. The architecture of the buildings represents the influence of the countries they came from, modified to a uniquely American experience. What is missing in all of these stories is one important element: None of it would have happened without the free labor of black slaves that built those houses and worked the lands.

John Cummings is determined not to make the same mistake.

A retired lawyer and wealthy real estate owner, the Whitney Plantation is one of Cummings’ 9,000 acres of real estate holdings in the New Orleans area. His purchase of the antebellum property was personal, wanting to preserve an important part of Louisiana history. It was due to be razed by a petrochemical company when he purchased it from them in 1998. The main house is an architectural gem, a testament to the region’s history. Cummings, however, has no intention of making the house the center of the museum.

He wants everyone to remember who built that house.

The Haydel family was one of the largest slaveholders in the region. On a household inventory from 1860, they noted 101 slaves, listed by name, gender and country of origin. Their ages, skills and even their skin tone were detailed on the report, which also noted two runaways that were presumed hiding. For the past 15 years, Cummings has spent $7 million of his own money trying to recreate the world those slaves lived in and, most importantly, who they were.

The plantation is considered the most complete in the south. In addition to the Greek and Spanish Creole styled house, the property has the overseer’s house, a blacksmith’s shop, as well as the oldest kitchen in Louisiana – all of which has been restored. The murals, believed to be painted by Italian artist Domenico Canova, also remain. Still, Cummings had to take some latitude to achieve his mission. He has purchased mahogany furniture, silver and other items from auction houses to recreate the style of the original owners.

However, it’s not the owners Cummings wishes to memorialize.

Cummings admits that he, as a wealthy white man, may be looked at suspiciously for trying to create this monument. However, he insists that his intentions are sincere. He relied heavily on the expertise of Ibrahima Seck, who is the academic director of the Whitney Plantation Museum. His book, “Bouki Fait Gombo: A History of the Slave Community of Habitation Haydel (Whitney Plantation) Louisiana, 1750-1860,” details the history of the slaves of the plantation. Originally from Senegal, he documents the routes of the slaves from the countries of origin, as well as many of the culinary and musical traditions that were part of how they coped with the brutal life of the plantation slaves.

Cummings has purchased original slave houses from other properties, as well as a shingled church used by the slaves. Visitors can see a steel jail from 1868 used to hold slaves, as well as 9 ½ feet wide sugar kettles, and rusted metal crosses that are used as grave markers on the property. After a brief tour of the main house, visitors are met with the sound of large antique bells ringing, reminding them of who they are there to remember.

It promises to be emotional and even uncomfortable.
One memorial was done by Ohio artist Woodrow Nash. Sixty-three ceramic heads of slaves killed rest on rods near a lagoon. The German Coast uprising happened on January 8-10, 1811 in what is now St. John and St. Charles parishes in Louisiana. It was the largest uprising in American history, in which 66 slaves died and another 33 were executed, escaped, or presumed dead.

Visitors are constantly reminded of the harsh world of the slaves as they walk through the hot and humid grounds, complete with the sounds of freight trains rumbling in the distance. Transcribed oral histories are etched on the walls, just some of the 4,000 stories of Louisiana slaves the staff has obtained. Some of these stories have been recorded and are played throughout the tour.

The Field of Fallen Angels is in an incongruously quiet courtyard that contains a centerpiece of a bronze angel breastfeeding a baby. The angel, bare breasted and surrounded by rusty chains, sits in the center of a memorial with 2,200 hundred names etched in stone. They are the slave babies born in St. John Parish that died before their third birthday. The slave children are a central theme throughout the plantation, with scores of life-sized ceramic sculptures of children sitting on the steps of the slave quarters, standing in fields, or sitting in the pews at church.

One of those children is Martha.

When recounting her story, Cummings notes how clergy    at the time justified slavery through scripture.  They said that their purpose here on earth was to be good slaves to their masters. In return, God would reward them by reuniting their families in the afterlife. He pauses as he remembers Martha’s mother dying brokenhearted at the loss of her 16 children.     >:(
“I just hope those pastors kept their promises,” he says.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/louisiana-plantation-opens-as-the-first-museum-dedicated-to-the-history-of-american-slavery.html#ixzz3LogF0fix

Agelbert note: Slavery is NOT over in the USA. It's good to remember the history but it's also important to recognize that slavery in the world AND the USA HAS NOT gone away. It just has better PR.  :(

Cheap, Disposable People
•An average slave in the American South in 1850 cost the equivalent of $40,000 in today’s money; today a slave costs an average of $90.

•In 1850 it was difficult to capture a slave and then transport them to the US. Today, millions of economically and socially vulnerable people around the world are potential slaves.

This “supply” makes slaves today cheaper than they have ever been. Since they are so cheap, slaves are today are not considered a major investment worth maintaining. If slaves get sick, are injured, outlive their usefulness, or become troublesome to the slaveholder, they are dumped or killed. For most slave holders, actually legally ‘owning’ the slave is an inconvenience since they already exert total control over the individuals labor and profits. Who needs a legal document that could at some point be used against the slave holder?

Today the slave holder cares more about these high profits than whether the holder and slave are of different ethnic backgrounds; in New Slavery, profit trumps skin color. Finally, new slavery is directly connected to the global economy. As in the past, most slaves are forced to work in agriculture, mining, and prostitution. From these sectors, their exploited labor flows into the global economy, and into our lives.

In addition, there may be people held in slavery in your community. Slavery happens in nearly every country in the world, and the US and Europe are not immune. Research that Free the Slaves conducted with the University of California, Berkeley found documented cases of slavery and human trafficking in more than 90 cities across the United States. To learn about the warning signs of slavery and what you can do to combat slavery in your community, click here.


Why is there slavery in the United States?

Trafficking victims are often tricked into slavery through promises of work. Human traffickers
tend to prey on impoverished people who live in countries with little access to education,
health care or jobs. When traffickers disguise themselves as legitimate recruiters or
employment brokers and promise paying work, many people are willing to sign on.

Parents desperately want to work so they can feed their hungry families. Young people want
to work so they can pay for their schooling or that of their younger brothers and sisters.

They are tricked into believing they will be paid for their work.

The basic rule of this global traffic in slaves is that victims flow from poorer countries to
richer countries. While it is true that most slaves in the US are trafficked in from other
countries, US citizens are also forced into slavery around the country. A recent study found
the citizens of more than 35 countries enslaved in the US, with the greatest numbers
coming from China, Mexico, and Viet Nam.


Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them. Pr. 22:22-23


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