In an age where many try to gloss over the horrors of slavery, one Louisiana man wants to ensure that American history’s darkest chapter is properly understood and appreciated. So he took it upon himself to turn something tragic into something pretty amazing.
Meet John Cummings, a Louisiana man who spent 16 years converting an old plantation in Louisiana into a slavery memorial to honor the generations of African-Americans forced into slavery. The Whitney Plantation opened its doors to the public for the first time in its 262 year history, standing out as the only plantation museum in Louisiana with a focus on slavery.
The most visible and salient features of the site are the grounds, with slave quarters, workshops, and 250 acres of former sugar and rice fields. Cummings, a trial lawyer who spent a whopping $6 million of his own money and has been working on bring the site to life since 1998, is delighted to see the museum finally open its doors.
“One of the things we’re trying to do here is create confusion,” said Cummings during a preview tour. (NY Times)
Cummings aims to startle visitors with the great many unpredictable miseries that were common during slave life.
For example, the NY Times reported how he drove a visitor around in a lurching golf cart past cramped slave jails and hauntingly lifelike statues, pointing out where part of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained was filmed.
Utilizing museum exhibits, memorial artwork, and restored buildings and hundreds of first-person slave narratives, Cummings hopes that visitors will come to Whitney Plantation to gain a first hand perspective on the lives of Louisiana’s enslaved people. No word yet on whether Kathy Bates’ character from season 3 of FX’s American Horror Story will make an appearance.
Here’s a look at some of the Whitney’s key sites, courtesy of sunnyskyz.com: