In partnership with the Hinds-Utica leadership class, our humanities students had the opportunity to visit the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, LA. Students were able to learn quite a bit from the only plantation museum in Louisiana focused on the slave experience. Jeffery Fairley, a sophomore majoring in biology/pre-med summed up his experience this way:
Today, I and a few other students had the gracious opportunity to go to the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana, and might I say… it was amazing. I have gone to this particular plantation over the summer, but this experience beats the summer’s experience hands down. Today, due to the lax time constraints, I was able to ask more questions, view the property better, and most importantly, digest the mean of this experience. Visiting this place became a heart wrenching experience for me due to the cruelty that took place on such beautiful grounds. Just knowing that I was walking on the land that my fellow brethren use to work in order to keep the masters pocket book happy, saddens me. Just walking through the tour forced me to become teary-eyed a few times, due to the overwhelming emotions that I was experience. The portion of the tour that truly hit home was the Name Wall, the wall were the slaves name were written in print for all to see and speculate forced me to realize that slavery was real and that it was so close to the place I call home. Seeing common names on the board that meant so much to me, like Aaron, Marie, and Baptiste. Knowing president day people who possessed these names deepened my understanding of the unoriginality that existed both today, and back then. I have always heard that there was nothing new under the sun, but that parable never had any effect on me until viewing those names on that wretched wall for all to see and marvel. The institution of slavery sickens me, and I am very thankful for the opportunity that students like me are able to fully understand and visit sites like this to cement the learning of this demeaning practice.
In addition, we joined by several members of the Utica Museum committee, a group which was born out of our work with the NEH grant program, working to open a museum focusing on the story of the Utica Institute, Hinds Agricultural High School, Utica Junior College, and Hinds-Utica.