Blog  American South: Visiting Whitney Plantation

American South: Visiting Whitney Plantation

By Mitzvah Corps American South 2018 Program Participants

On our first full day on the Mitzvah Corps American South trip, we visited the Whitney Plantation, located an hour from New Orleans, Louisiana. We took a tour and learned about the reality of life for enslaved laborers on this plantation and in the South generally. Read about reflections here.

At Whitney Plantation,

-I saw the magnitude of slave trade and the life of enslaved people.

-I was moved.

-I learned a lot about the history of slavery. I also liked seeing the original places because it made it more real.

-I learned about the daily hardships that enslaved people endured, such as being overworked, exposed to diseases such as malaria and dysentery, and having to endure the anxiety of being killed at any point for any reason.

-I learned more about history.

-I learned more about the lives and experiences of enslaved people and the dangers and hardships they endured.

-I felt sadness for those who had to suffer on the land.

-I learned the power of claiming your people’s narrative.

-I saw the cramped and stifling conditions in which enslaved people were forced to live up-close and personal. I tasted refreshing cherry cake which was a stark contract to the weather outside, which enslaved people experienced 24 hours a day. I heard the scream of cicadas and the bell used to summon enslaved people. I felt the muggy climate in Louisiana.

-I learned how big the slave operation was. Not only was it the plantation, but it was the people who were purchasing crops and using the products.

-I learned and realized the that North and Europe were complicit in slavery, which I always blamed on just the South. I also thought about the unique struggles of women in slavery, such as rape, forced childbirth, and not being with their children.

-I learned a lot about the history of our country and gained a new appreciation for what enslaved people went through.

-I learned enslaved people didn’t have a better life than those working in the fields.

-I found a connection with the name memorial. Jewish kabbalistic teachings explain that each person’s soul is connected to their name. While reading the names and stories at the plantation, i connected with their stories more than I ever thought I would.

-I learned all about the ugly side of our nation’s history and history in general. It absolutely disgusted me to learn how complicit just about everyone was in the exploitation of black people, and I hereby vow to do better and try to make it right.

-I learned the significance of the legacy of slavery. Yeah, I learned a bit more about the brutal conditions of these enslaved people and how it was inhumane, but I learned how this impacted the future. Slavery is the earliest activity of racial oppression in America. We may not agree to slavery or segregation, but in our heads, whether we agree or not, as a result of this, we will always carry the idea that black people will never be viewed the same way as white people. The woman executing the tour had quite a lot to enlighten us. Now I have a lot to enlighten my family on.

-I learned that all parties had a part in the slave trade.

-I saw and learned about how enslaved people lived and were treated every day. I could visualize how they were horribly treated and the unfortunate living conditions they had.

-I learned about the horrible conditions the enslaved people had to go through while producing sugar and how many of them only lived for 7 years while at the plantation.

-I saw the horrible reality enslaved people lived through and how unfairly enslaved were treated. I gained a new understanding of what the lives of enslaved people were like.

-I enjoyed learning about what it was like for slaves to live there, and how surprising it was to hear how many there were. I was also surprised to learn that Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner and made the person he owned have kids. I never knew that there were French settlers in America who opened the plantation. Those are just some of what I learned today at the Whitney Plantation.

-I finally got a true understanding of the institution of slavery. Just learning about it in the classroom is not enough. I also learned that this type of oppression was unfortunately only the beginning, and our country was formed by it.