We started the day at Whitney Plantation. This is the only one of the tours that we have been on that tells the story of antebellum Louisiana from the point of view of the slaves. Narratives here have been constructed from the stories that were collected by Alan Lomax and the Federal Writers Project. Because those stories come from people who were children at the time they were slaves, the statues on the plantation are all of children. It was a moving tour. The materials in the main building helped me understand both the Catholic Church’s complicity in the enslavement of Africans and the many routes from the many parts of Africa that the slavers took. Both overland and around Africa, the routes were brutal and the destinations for slaves numerous.
Whitney had two sugar mills, so they both grew and processed sugar. They processed the sugar for surrounding plantations as well. The giant bowls depicted above are where sugar would be cooked/granulated 24 hours a day.
Our second stop was Oak Alley. Look at this row of Live-Oaks:
The trees were inducted into the Live Oak Society in 1995. They have NAMES!! They have a society! We did not tour the house as we had a hard time with the fact that the tour guides were all in hoop skirts. We had lunch, shook our heads at the fact that the giant irons pots that the sugar cane was cooked in were being used as planters, and headed back to Laura, a Creole plantation.
Laura featured another incredible tour guide. He told stories and brought to life the family that lived here for generations. He explained what Creole meant – the Spanish/French/African/Native culture that existed in Louisiana before the Louisiana Purchase. French was spoken at Laura until the 1980s.
This tour looked at the women who kept this plantation going over the generations. I think an interesting truth our guide told was about Elizabeth, the grande dame of the plantation. He was explaining that her granddaughter thought that her grandmother became meaner as she got older. He said that slavery destroyed the humanity of the owners. He wasn’t excusing her. It was a fact. Inhuman acts create inhuman people.
It was so hot today. I think I melted on that last tour, but it was so worth it.
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What a line… Slavery destroyed the humanity of owners! Wow.
Imagine a grandchild trying to reconcile a grandmother’s actions, especially when the child was a young adult, fully aware of the things her grandmother, as president of the plantation, had done.