Slave Dwelling Project coming to Natchez April 17

From: Natchez Democrat

The nationally recognized “Slave Dwelling Project” is coming to Natchez on April 17 in a virtual event open to all.

Project founder and a history consultant for Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina, Joseph McGill, has stayed more than 250 nights in approximately 100 different sites in 19 states and the District of Columbia where historically American slaves once lived.

McGill’s lodgings have included outbuildings, attics, cabins and other places where enslaved families ate, slept and lived their everyday lives.

By staying in these often neglected structures, McGill not only raises awareness to slavery and starts modern-day conversations about it, but also encourages the preservation of the living quarters for those who made the larger and more eye-pleasing plantation houses what they are.

In an article about McGill’s upcoming Natchez visit in Country Roads Magazine, McGill says he aims to bring stories about slavery to life — stories that have often been left as only a footnote in history lessons.

“We know well about the nice, beautiful big house,” McGill told Country Roads Magazine. “What’s missing from that story are the lives of the people who enabled all that.”

On April 17, McGill is stopping for an overnight stay at Melrose thanks to a collaborative effort between the Historic Natchez Foundation, Natchez National Historical Park and a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, said HNF Executive Director Carter Burns.

“In normal times, McGill is able to have people come and spend the night with him at the slave dwellings and share their experience and then there is a campfire discussion about slavery,” Burns said. “With the pandemic, we’re not able to have people join him in person so he will come to Natchez and will go to the slave cabin at Melrose and will do a live broadcast.”

Burns said McGill’s first Natchez broadcast will be at 11 a.m. at Forks of the Road during which viewers will hear an overview of the site and the plan for when it becomes part of the National Park Service.

Another live broadcast will be 6 p.m. from Melrose. McGill will give a tour of the grounds before a Zoom discussion at 7 p.m., which will enable viewers to ask questions and talk about the uncomfortable topic of slavery.


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