Interpreting Difficult History
Oak Alley and the Whitney Plantations
An hour outside of New Orleans, along the banks of the Mississippi River, is a community with powerful testimonies to the rich history of the antebellum south and the sugar plantations. Step back in time with this guided tour of two plantations, Oak Alley and the Whitney, as you explore and discuss the difficult history of the past as seen through the eyes of the enslaved labor and plantation owners.
Built in the early 1800s, Oak Alley offers an experience as compelling as the plantation’s 25 historic acres and 300-year-old alley of oaks. This tour will take you from the plantation’s mansion, the “Big House,” which was built with prestige and power in mind, to the slavery exhibit, where you will hear touching stories of the lives and living conditions of individuals who were owned and kept on the plantation. It also includes a look into life after emancipation, as laborers continued to live in the increasingly squalid housing until the 20th century. Your guide will discuss how they address visitors’ needs as they confront difficult history. The tour ends with a unique opportunity for Q&A with Laura Kilcer, curator, and Gaul Dubois, interpretive coordinator, as they discuss some of the questions that have guided their revamp, including site identity, humanizing the enslaved, difficult history, and rebranding. After lunch at Oak Alley, you will depart for a tour of the Whitney Plantation.
Spend the afternoon at the Whitney Plantation, which opened its doors in 2014 to the public for the first time in its 262-year history as the only plantation museum in Louisiana with a focus on slavery. Your afternoon will start with time to explore the grounds on your own, and then take a 90-minute guided tour of the museum exhibits, memorial artwork, and restored buildings that offer hundreds of first-person slave narratives that offer a unique perspective on the lives of Louisiana’s enslaved people. The tour will end with a Q&A.
Maximum Number of Participants: 45
Suggest Gear: Comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing. You will be walking on gravel pathways
Accessible: Pathways and upper floors may not be wheelchair accessible
Lunch: Included at Oak Alley
Transportation: Provided—travel is approximately 100-mile round trip