Where are the black folks on the plantation?
Wanted: Willing and able African Americans interested in their role of the building of the US Economy circa 1780-1850. Must be eager to give the public information based on this time period as it pertained to African Americans. Must be willing to do some labor, field work, domestic work in all types of weather. Interested? Join an elite group of African Americans sharing their history.
Sure it doesn’t really seem like much but a lot was said in that little advertisement. The sad part is, I may fix that up just a little bit and peddle it to local colleges to get the volunteers that I need to help out on site. How is it that I work on a plantation that had at one point 139 slaves, and at the end of May, I will be the only one there? I can understand that people don’t wish to discuss slavery aka our not so hidden shame, but I continue to run into individuals who are so ignorant to the topic that they believe whatever was written in the history books from 1950.
I will be working with our volunteer coordinator over the summer to start a campaign to increase the amount of African American volunteers that are available. There’s nothing like being at work on a Saturday when visitors from all around come to the site and you have to either be in the kitchen or be in the slave cabin or be in the field and potentially miss out on sharing information with the visitor because they will find a way to avoid you. Now if there was an overwhelming presence, or even 5 of us out there at the same time, the visitor would have to acknowledge the history and ask questions related to slave life.
I already know why some African Americans won’t come out. They don’t want to do the work. They don’t want to be in the fields or seen as a slave. I have a new respect for slaves as I do the work that they did, and face some of the same encounters with nature that they would have dealt with. Before the work becomes backbreaking for me, I have the ability and the FREEDOM to stop and take a break, walk away, get some water, and not worry about being beat for “laziness”. I have the ability to go home to comforts and food before the sun goes down and the ability not to wake up while it is still dark and not have to be in the fields when the sun comes up. Do you have what it takes to be an interpreter of slave life?
To come full circle with the story of slavery, we must be willing to step back into time so that we are able to teach the public about it. That way, there won’t be a question of “Where are the Black folks on this plantation?”, instead they will ask, “Was there a part of the plantation that African Americans weren’t a part of?” When we get there, we will truly be doing something. For now, I’ll be the lonely voice representing those 139 slaves whose life was guided by the land I walk on.