[Blackstudies-l] How a Slave Market Became a National Park Service Site: ​Natchez, Miss.

Justin Behrend behrend at geneseo.edu
Mon Jul 5 10:13:12 EDT 2021


I've met and talked with Mr. Boxley. He was the driving force to create
this memorial to the second-largest slave market in the U.S. I pick up the
story of what happened after emancipation in Natchez in my book,
*Reconstructing
Democracy
<https://ugapress.org/book/9780820351421/reconstructing-democracy/>. *I
also wrote a little story about slave resistance in Natchez
<https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/rumors-of-revolt/>.

On Sat, Jul 3, 2021 at 10:13 AM Maria Helena Lima <lima at geneseo.edu> wrote:

>
> From 1833 to 1863, Forks of the Road was among the largest slave markets
> in America.
> View in browser
> <https://nl.nytimes.com/f/a/QoXl8ZjPOR5TGqZGlmppAA~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRiwsi4P4QoAWh0dHBzOi8vbWVzc2FnaW5nLWN1c3RvbS1uZXdzbGV0dGVycy5ueXRpbWVzLmNvbS90ZW1wbGF0ZS9vYWt2Mj9jYW1wYWlnbl9pZD0zNyZlbWM9ZWRpdF9ycl8yMDIxMDcwMyZpbnN0YW5jZV9pZD0zNDUwOCZubD1yYWNlJTJGcmVsYXRlZCZwcm9kdWN0Q29kZT1SUiZyZWdpX2lkPTQyNzQwODk3JnNlZ21lbnRfaWQ9NjI1NDYmdGU9MSZ1cmk9bnl0JTNBJTJGJTJGbmV3c2xldHRlciUyRmZmYjMyOThmLWRlYTctNTA0YS1iNDIxLTdlMTAyNjY1ODY2MyZ1c2VyX2lkPTM5MzhmMTdkODE4MmEyMmZkZTE0NjdmZjlkMGJiNWM1VwNueXRCCmDduEPgYOS8dyhSEGxpbWFAZ2VuZXNlby5lZHVYBAAAAAA~>
> |nytimes.com
> <https://nl.nytimes.com/f/a/1Gb2WviXTRgaV9CQcbCFzg~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRiwsi4P0SwaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubnl0aW1lcy5jb20vP2NhbXBhaWduX2lkPTM3JmVtYz1lZGl0X3JyXzIwMjEwNzAzJmluc3RhbmNlX2lkPTM0NTA4Jm5sPXJhY2UlMkZyZWxhdGVkJnJlZ2lfaWQ9NDI3NDA4OTcmc2VnbWVudF9pZD02MjU0NiZ0ZT0xJnVzZXJfaWQ9MzkzOGYxN2Q4MTgyYTIyZmRlMTQ2N2ZmOWQwYmI1YzVXA255dEIKYN24Q-Bg5Lx3KFIQbGltYUBnZW5lc2VvLmVkdVgEAAAAAA~~>
> Continue reading the main story
> <#m_-6004852459405860494_m_2131081208067953201_a11y-skip-ad-marquee>
>
> [image: More Race/Related]
> <https://nl.nytimes.com/f/a/fABjr8QxfcVvXXGLDwbBLQ~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRiwsi4P0S-aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubnl0aW1lcy5jb20vc3BvdGxpZ2h0L3JhY2U_Y2FtcGFpZ25faWQ9MzcmZW1jPWVkaXRfcnJfMjAyMTA3MDMmaW5zdGFuY2VfaWQ9MzQ1MDgmbmw9cmFjZSUyRnJlbGF0ZWQmcmVnaV9pZD00Mjc0MDg5NyZzZWdtZW50X2lkPTYyNTQ2JnRlPTEmdXNlcl9pZD0zOTM4ZjE3ZDgxODJhMjJmZGUxNDY3ZmY5ZDBiYjVjNVcDbnl0Qgpg3bhD4GDkvHcoUhBsaW1hQGdlbmVzZW8uZWR1WAQAAAAA>
>
> July 3, 2021
> Dan Gibson, fourth from right, the mayor of Natchez, Miss., and other
> elected officials joined Kathleen Bond, third from right, the
> superintendent for the Natchez National Historical Park, in unveiling new
> signs for the entrance to the Forks of the Road slave market site.Imani
> Khayyam for The New York Times
> How the Truth of Forks of the Road Came to Be
>
> By Brishette Mendoza
>
> NATCHEZ, Miss. — When driving through Natchez, Miss., a town popular with
> tourists, it is easy to overlook an awkwardly shaped patch of land, only
> modestly marked by a few signs, free-standing exhibits and shackles
> cemented in the ground.
>
> But from 1833 to 1863, the land, Forks of the Road
> <https://nl.nytimes.com/f/a/jBMcy0LaG1zSpEF5Zz1Qsg~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRiwsi4P0TSaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubnBzLmdvdi90aGluZ3N0b2RvL2Fib3V0LWZvcmtzLW9mLXRoZS1yb2FkLmh0bT9jYW1wYWlnbl9pZD0zNyZlbWM9ZWRpdF9ycl8yMDIxMDcwMyZpbnN0YW5jZV9pZD0zNDUwOCZubD1yYWNlJTJGcmVsYXRlZCZyZWdpX2lkPTQyNzQwODk3JnNlZ21lbnRfaWQ9NjI1NDYmdGU9MSZ1c2VyX2lkPTM5MzhmMTdkODE4MmEyMmZkZTE0NjdmZjlkMGJiNWM1VwNueXRCCmDduEPgYOS8dyhSEGxpbWFAZ2VuZXNlby5lZHVYBAAAAAA~>,
> was among the largest slave markets in America. And now, local historians,
> residents and officials are celebrating its recognition as a new national
> historical park site.
>
> Once long forgotten by many outside the region, Forks of the Road was
> where tens of thousands of enslaved men, women and children were taken to
> work in homes and plantations. The domestic slave trade was such a central
> feature of the nation’s economy, and it made millionaires out of many
> Natchez residents
> <https://nl.nytimes.com/f/a/BdsiutbJNK3jGGtt4Y_jUQ~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRiwsi4P0T4aHR0cHM6Ly90aW1lc21hY2hpbmUubnl0aW1lcy5jb20vdGltZXNtYWNoaW5lLzE5NTEvMDIvMDQvODQ4MzM1MjAuaHRtbD9jYW1wYWlnbl9pZD0zNyZlbWM9ZWRpdF9ycl8yMDIxMDcwMyZpbnN0YW5jZV9pZD0zNDUwOCZubD1yYWNlJTJGcmVsYXRlZCZwYWdlTnVtYmVyPTEwMSZyZWdpX2lkPTQyNzQwODk3JnNlZ21lbnRfaWQ9NjI1NDYmdGU9MSZ1c2VyX2lkPTM5MzhmMTdkODE4MmEyMmZkZTE0NjdmZjlkMGJiNWM1Jnpvb209MTQuOTNXA255dEIKYN24Q-Bg5Lx3KFIQbGltYUBnZW5lc2VvLmVkdVgEAAAAAA~~>
> .
>
> In an emotional ceremony late last month in which the city donated nearly
> three acres of land to the National Park Service, officials unveiled a
> large National Park Service sign that now marks the acknowledgment that
> residents and many outside the region said was a long time coming: “Forks
> of the Road, Natchez National Historical Park.”
>
> “History is not always pleasant, but it’s important that history be told,
> all of it,” and particularly in this moment in America, said Dan Gibson,
> the mayor of Natchez. He was elected in July 2020, as thousands of people
> were marching in streets across the nation to protest systemic racism and
> police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
>
> “It’s a sad story,” he said of the history of Forks of the Road. “And I
> think for many years, there are some who would have been satisfied to see
> that story forgotten. But how can you forget it?”
> Continue reading the main story
> <#m_-6004852459405860494_m_2131081208067953201_a11y-skip-0>
> ADVERTISEMENT
>
> Many of the descendants of those once enslaved in Natchez — a
> majority-African American city of about 14,600 residents — still live in
> the area, Mr. Gibson said, and deserve to have their contributions to the
> history of Natchez finally recognized.
>
> A federal law passed in 2017 authorized the Natchez National Historical
> Park, an 18.5-acre site, to preserve and interpret the Forks of the Road
> plot, and there are plans to build an educational visitor center and a
> memorial or monument.
>
> In his keynote speech at the June 18 ceremony, the day after President
> Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday, Senator Roger
> Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, acknowledged that the country had been
> the “the greatest experiment in democracy and freedom that’s ever been
> known around the globe. But it’s also been a work in progress.”
>
> He noted the irony of the historical street names that bound the location
> of the Forks of the Road — at the corner of Liberty and Washington. “I
> wonder if it dawned on the people participating there, what was done,” he
> said.
> Continue reading the main story
> <#m_-6004852459405860494_m_2131081208067953201_a11y-skip-1>
> ADVERTISEMENT
>
> Kathleen Bond, the superintendent for the Natchez National Historical
> Park, oversaw a study that paved the way for congressional support of the
> site. Its significance, she said, is “an opportunity to tell the truth.”
>
> “I’m a great believer in paradox, that you can hold things that seem
> contradictory, but you don’t have the truth unless you’ve got the whole,
> all the sides of it,” Ms. Bond said. “I mean, you can’t be here in Natchez
> without seeing the beautiful architecture and the beautiful furnishings
> that remain, after more than 150 years. But that was a beauty that was
> built on an atrocity of violence and suffering and torture.”
> Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-CM BoxleyImani Khayyam for The New York Times
>
> Residents agree that this milestone was reached because local historians
> saw an opportunity and worked diligently to ensure its reality.
> Continue reading the main story
> <#m_-6004852459405860494_m_2131081208067953201_a11y-skip-2>
> ADVERTISEMENT
>
> For more than two decades, Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-CM Boxley, plus the Friends
> of the Forks of the Road Society Inc., lobbied for the preservation of the
> site and a new, more complete telling of its history, which includes
> remembering its role in the Civil War.
>
> During the war, Colored Troops soldiers serving at Fort McPherson, the
> Union’s post in Natchez, leveled the Forks of the Road and used lumber from
> the slave pens to fortify its holding.
>
> Ser Boxley, who was raised in Natchez but then lived in the San Francisco
> Bay Area for 35 years after high school, observed upon his return in 1995
> that the city’s tourism industry made it look as if white people had done
> “everything all by themselves.”
>
> “I decided that I needed to do something,” he said. So he looked for a
> site “that spoke to a people’s history.” The Forks of the Road was that
> site.
>
> Its significance is not limited to Black people, he said, but is part of a
> more complete telling of the region’s history.
>
> Mayor Gibson agreed.
>
> “It doesn’t mean we stop telling the story that’s been told here for so
> many years, about the Natchez Indians, about the French, about the Spanish,
> about the English and the Americans,” he said. “All of that’s important,
> but it is also time to make sure we’re telling the story that is the
> African American history of our community.”
>
> “I think this will build more unity here, but it will also bring more
> tourists here,” he continued. “And it will also give people a sense of
> belonging that I believe is long overdue.”
>
> Natchez has long been a tourist attraction, with its views of the
> Mississippi River and opulent mansions, but visitors crave the full story
> of the town. And the community “wants to tell that story,” said Devin
> Heath, the executive director of Visit Natchez.
> The Melrose Estate, a two-story Greek Revival mansion preserved as part of
> the Natchez National Historical Park. It is one of the best-preserved
> estates in the Deep South from the mid-1800s.Imani Khayyam for The New
> York Times
>
> “How do we go forward together as one community?” he said, adding that the
> descendants of the owners of the antebellum mansions weren’t the ones who
> owned those who were enslaved, “they’re telling the story of the home.”
>
> “Several of them have reached out to me and said, ‘We want to be a part of
> telling the complete story, we just need the resources and support,’” Mr.
> Heath said. “And so what we’re doing is trying to create that kind of
> environment where they’ll have that information.”
>
> Felicia Bridgewater-Irving, a city alderwoman who lives close to the site
> and whose district includes Forks of the Road, said she often sees visitors
> there. “If you ever visit there,” she said, “you’re emotionally filled with
> what has taken place.”
>
> Acknowledging that history, she said, makes it easier to move forward.
>
> Her colleague, Valencia Hall, a city alderwoman who grew up in Natchez
> during the Jim Crow South and whose ancestors include Colored Troops there,
> said she was very proud to see Forks of the Road become a National Park
> Service site.
>
> “It tells us how far we have come in race relations,” she said, showing a
> way “to honor one another as human beings, as people with humanity, with
> dignity and honor.”
>
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> organized and built cross-racial and cross-ethnic alliances, all in pursuit
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> [image: Article Image]
>
> Tomás Karmelo Amaya for The New York Times
>
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> the Next Generation of Indigenous Data Scientists
>
> A new workshop explores the right of Indigenous people to govern the
> collection, ownership and use of their biological and cultural data.
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> By Sabrina Imbler
>
> <https://nl.nytimes.com/f/newsletter/3aviTgzmDq7uJ97hN4Jhrw~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRiwsi4P0TqaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubnl0aW1lcy5jb20vMjAyMS8wNi8yOS9zY2llbmNlL2luZGlnZW5vdXMtZGF0YS1taWNyb2Jpb21lLXNjaWVuY2UuaHRtbD9jYW1wYWlnbl9pZD0zNyZlbWM9ZWRpdF9ycl8yMDIxMDcwMyZpbnN0YW5jZV9pZD0zNDUwOCZubD1yYWNlJTJGcmVsYXRlZCZyZWdpX2lkPTQyNzQwODk3JnNlZ21lbnRfaWQ9NjI1NDYmdGU9MSZ1c2VyX2lkPTM5MzhmMTdkODE4MmEyMmZkZTE0NjdmZjlkMGJiNWM1VwNueXRCCmDduEPgYOS8dyhSEGxpbWFAZ2VuZXNlby5lZHVYBAAAAAA~>
> [image: Article Image]
> <https://nl.nytimes.com/f/newsletter/1URALiQZOEicast9oMrlHA~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRiwsi4P0TtaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubnl0aW1lcy5jb20vMjAyMS8wNi8yOC9idXNpbmVzcy9lY29ub215L2JsYWNrLXdvcmtlcnMtcmFjaWFsLXBheS1nYXAuaHRtbD9jYW1wYWlnbl9pZD0zNyZlbWM9ZWRpdF9ycl8yMDIxMDcwMyZpbnN0YW5jZV9pZD0zNDUwOCZubD1yYWNlJTJGcmVsYXRlZCZyZWdpX2lkPTQyNzQwODk3JnNlZ21lbnRfaWQ9NjI1NDYmdGU9MSZ1c2VyX2lkPTM5MzhmMTdkODE4MmEyMmZkZTE0NjdmZjlkMGJiNWM1VwNueXRCCmDduEPgYOS8dyhSEGxpbWFAZ2VuZXNlby5lZHVYBAAAAAA~> Black
> Workers Stopped Making Progress on Pay. Is It Racism?
>
> Economists are grappling with how much to blame bias or a changing economy
> for the widening wage gap over the last 40 years.
>
> By Eduardo Porter
>
> <https://nl.nytimes.com/f/newsletter/1URALiQZOEicast9oMrlHA~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRiwsi4P0TtaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubnl0aW1lcy5jb20vMjAyMS8wNi8yOC9idXNpbmVzcy9lY29ub215L2JsYWNrLXdvcmtlcnMtcmFjaWFsLXBheS1nYXAuaHRtbD9jYW1wYWlnbl9pZD0zNyZlbWM9ZWRpdF9ycl8yMDIxMDcwMyZpbnN0YW5jZV9pZD0zNDUwOCZubD1yYWNlJTJGcmVsYXRlZCZyZWdpX2lkPTQyNzQwODk3JnNlZ21lbnRfaWQ9NjI1NDYmdGU9MSZ1c2VyX2lkPTM5MzhmMTdkODE4MmEyMmZkZTE0NjdmZjlkMGJiNWM1VwNueXRCCmDduEPgYOS8dyhSEGxpbWFAZ2VuZXNlby5lZHVYBAAAAAA~>
> [image: Article Image]
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> Came to Slay: L.G.B.T.Q. Trailblazers
>
> These artists, activists, entrepreneurs and mentors have been leading the
> way and opening doors for other L.G.B.T.Q. people of color for more than 30
> years. And they have no plans to stop.
>
> By Derrick Bryson Taylor and Richard Williams
>
> <https://nl.nytimes.com/f/newsletter/xbmYuci3AEtJ-lSMo9Qqfw~~/AAAAAQA~/RgRiwsi4P0TqaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cubnl0aW1lcy5jb20vMjAyMS8wNi8yNi9zdHlsZS9sZ2J0cS1hY3RpdmlzdHMtYXJ0aXN0cy10cmFpbGJsYXplcnMuaHRtbD9jYW1wYWlnbl9pZD0zNyZlbWM9ZWRpdF9ycl8yMDIxMDcwMyZpbnN0YW5jZV9pZD0zNDUwOCZubD1yYWNlJTJGcmVsYXRlZCZyZWdpX2lkPTQyNzQwODk3JnNlZ21lbnRfaWQ9NjI1NDYmdGU9MSZ1c2VyX2lkPTM5MzhmMTdkODE4MmEyMmZkZTE0NjdmZjlkMGJiNWM1VwNueXRCCmDduEPgYOS8dyhSEGxpbWFAZ2VuZXNlby5lZHVYBAAAAAA~>
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-- 
Justin Behrend, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair of the History Department
SUNY Geneseo
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