A Cold Look at Slavery Now a Part of Some Plantation ToursBreaking News
tags: slavery, Plantation
Ceramic sculptures of hollow-eyed slave children haunt the Whitney Plantation, west of New Orleans, where owner John Cummings has infused the traditional antebellum plantation tour with an unflinching look at human bondage in the Old South.
Cummings, an attorney and real estate investor, opened Whitney more than two years ago as a slavery museum, bucking a tradition of plantation tours that romanticize antebellum life and gloss over the slave trade. Yes, there are live oaks arching over the walk up to a grand, restored main house full of period antiques. But there's also an artist's jarring monument to slaves slaughtered after a failed revolt — multiple rows of spikes topped with what look like the decapitated heads of African-American men.
Purchased as a real estate investment more than 15 years ago, Whitney became something else for Cummings, an 80-year-old white man, as he examined volumes of documents related to the old sugar plantation and similar surrounding operations along the Mississippi River. Inventories of human beings valued like livestock or equipment and records of women touted as breeding stock were eye-openers, even for a wealthy, college-educated man from the South.
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