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Plantations could be used to teach about US slavery if stories are told truthfully


1. They incorporate slavery and the lives of the enslaved throughout the tour

We think it’s important to feature slavery and the lives of the enslaved during all aspects of the tour and not keep it separate in a special exhibit.

Visitors should be given an opportunity to make thoughtful connections to those who were once enslaved by learning names and details about their lives. At Whitney, for example, visitors are encouraged to make emotional connections. One way they do this is by receiving a lanyard at the start of the tour that features the words and image of a formerly enslaved child.

2. They provide visitors a space to contemplate

We know the plantation can be an especially fraught and emotional experience, particularly for Black visitors. During our fieldwork, Black visitors would often describe the land as sacred and a powerful place to connect to the ancestors. Some of these plantations have even hosted Black family reunions. Whitney Plantation provides opportunities for visitor reflection and contemplation throughout the tour, such as benches near a wall that memorializes and honors all of the people who were enslaved there.

3. Tour guides were well prepared

McLeod’s management purposely hired guides who would disrupt romantic notions of the plantation and engage meaningfully with themes of slavery, race and social justice. They also provided ongoing training and support to guides doing the difficult work of challenging or complicating long-held plantation myths.

Managers at McLeod acknowledged the stress experienced by their tour guides when they focused on enslavement and its aftermath. They took extra steps to ensure that their guides were supported by initiating a “golden hour.” This was a time for staff to come together and reflect on difficult encounters with the visitors, who sometimes challenged guides’ historical knowledge and fairness. It was also a time for the guides to develop strategies to cope with the emotional toll of the hostility they faced while doing their jobs.The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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