Time to learn during Black History Month

Published 9:00 am Sunday, February 14, 2016

Making History by Amy Gauthier

February is Black History Month. No matter your heritage, it’s undeniable our country’s black history is a painful one. It seems every day there are allegations in the news: crime, police brutality, poverty, murder. The Black Lives Matter movement screams of frustration. Like many of us, I seek understanding. I feel to understand our present, we must understand our past.

Our nation has over 35,000 museums dedicated to preserving history, and in 2014 our country’s first Plantation Museum, with a focus on African slavery, opened near Wallace, Louisiana.

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Whitney Plantation was featured on a national news program. After seeing the broadcast, I must admit I was intrigued.  Exploration of the website (www.whitneyplantation.com) revealed page after page of thoughtful information. Whitney Plantation tells the stories of those enslaved on its property lovingly, and accurately.

Amy Gauthier

Amy Gauthier

The Big House was the domain of the domestic slaves who performed duties such as cleaning, serving food and drinks, fanning the masters while they ate, washing and ironing clothes, and taking care of all the needs of the children. Whitney Plantation is significant because of the number of its historic outbuildings which were added to the site over the years, providing a unique perspective on the evolution of the Louisiana plantation. The kitchen is believed to be the oldest detached kitchen in Louisiana.

There is the Field of Angels, which is dedicated to over 2,200 of enslaved children under the age of three who died on that land. Many more died before they saw their fifth birthday. The Wall of Honor is a memorial dedicated to all the people who were enslaved on the Whitney Plantation. The names and the information related to them were retrieved from original archives and engraved on granite slabs.

So far, more than 350 Whitney Plantation slaves have been identified on official records.

I encourage you all to check it out. It’s overwhelming, but it’s real. It’s our nation’s history. And, although it’s our history, it doesn’t need to be our present or our future. I believe we are going to heal as a society; through empathy, education and understanding.

Our community’s history is rich with culture. And our history evolves every day. My vision for our Freeborn County Historical Society is to make it an accessible, welcoming place for everyone. We are going to explore all of our history and celebrate our achievements.

Visit our website www.fchm.us for the latest event information, and volunteer opportunities! And like us on Facebook!

Upcoming events at the museum:

Defensive Driving Refresher Class 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. March 5

Historically Speaking Lecture Series 9 a.m. March 12, in the museum meeting room

Freeborn County Genealogical Society Meeting 10 a.m. March 14

Marion Ross Play-Bus Trip to Kansas City April 2 – April 3

Taste of Heritage 1 to 3 p.m. at Northbridge Mall

Together, we can make history!

*Source: www.whitneyplantation.com


Amy Gauthier  is the executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum.