Starting in 1936, the Federal Writers’ Project spent the next three years collecting as many stories from freed men and women about their lives before emancipation. The Children of Whitney, a series of sculptures by Ohio-based artist Woodrow Nash, represent these former slaves as they were at the time of emancipation: children. Whitney presents the stories of these children as told in their own words. The visitors are introduced to the lives of the enslaved workers based on the recollections of those who endured, and who shared the stories of their lives as children in slavery. For the enslaved who worked in the “Big House,” they were at the beck and call of the slaveholders for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many would often sleep on the hard floor, in places like the pantry or the kitchen, in case the family needed them. This is a jail that was utilized after the Civil War in Gonzalez, Louisiana, but it resembles the slave pens used at auction houses. This is why it now sits on the Whitney Plantation. Slave cabin with sugar kettle in front. From October to December, the sugar factory was a 24-hour process. Sugar must be processed as soon as it is cut. After it was cut, it was then ground. After grinding, the juice from the sugar cane had to be boiled four separate times for it to be at the point it would crystallize. German Coast Uprising Memorial-In 1811, Charles Deslondes organized a band of rebels that moved from plantation to plantation down River Road (which is where the Whitney is located) with the intent of killing the owners and freeing the people who were enslaved. They were armed with machetes, axes, and other weapons. Local militia and federal troops quelled the uprising and murdered at least 40 people and 65 were executed after trials in New Orleans. Those 65 were brought back to the plantations and killed in front of others. Their heads were placed on sticks along River Road Field of Angels
When I was in Louisiana, I visited the Whitney Plantation, the only plantation that focuses on the experience of the enslaved. It does not romanticize plantation culture, which many plantations do. There are some plantations that are doing a better job at sharing these stories, but the Whitney has set the gold standard for this. I recommend everyone to make the effort to visit. For all photo descriptions, I am referencing the Whitney website or their audio tour.