Last Friday, the PCA 7th Grade classes visited Magnolia Plantation. The young students were able to participate in a special presentation by The Slave Dwelling Project. The mission of the Slave Dwelling Project is to raise awareness of American history by addressing the legacy of slavery. The group does so by re-enacting on properties that generally have old slave houses or dwellings. This year's program at Magnolia Plantation was called, "Inalienable Rights: Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved".
Students were first greeted by the founder of the Slave Dwelling Project and Civil War re-enactor, Joe McGill. McGill greeted the students in historical clothing and proceeded to tell them how he travels to various properties throughout the U.S. and actually stays the night in their slave dwellings, such as the ones currently on Magnolia Plantation. "Now that I have the attention of the public by sleeping in extant slave dwellings, it is time to wake up and deliver the message that the people who lived in these structures were not a footnote in American History," stated McGill. PCA students were then transported into another time as they walked on the plantation property and experienced re-enactors performing their trades in front of the slave houses. Students were educated on the challenges of cooking for many people, and what crops they grew and meals they prepared. There was also a brickmaker and blacksmith performing their skills on site. Students saw a dramatic performance from a Harriet Tubman re-enactor as well.
Many of the students enjoyed the lectures and learned of the slaves' challenges. 7th grader, Lauren Pabst, states, "I enjoyed the cooking demonstration. They had to cook outdoors and it wasn't electric. So, it was harder and probably took longer." Fellow students Gavin Wease and Daniel Stewart enjoyed watching the blacksmith work with fire and yield the iron. Middle School History teacher, Kara Karnes, knew this field trip would be important. "I just like them to be able to see what life was like, and be able to see history as opposed to just learning it in the classroom. I think it sticks with them better through the demonstrations and having the experience."