Memorial illumination in February to honor enslaved people

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Next month, Cane River Creole National Historical Park (CRCNHP) will host two separate memorial illumination events to remember and honor the people who were enslaved on Oakland Plantation and Magnolia Plantation as part of Black History Month. The Oakland illumination will take place Saturday, Feb 20, and the Magnolia illumination will take place Saturday, Feb. 27.

The free illumination events and self-guided tours will begin at 6:30 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. The tours will be outdoors, will cover about a half-mile over uneven and unpaved ground, and will occur rain or shine. Participants are encouraged to bring a flashlight and dress appropriately for weather and walking conditions. Oakland Plantation is located at 4386 Hwy 494, Natchez. Magnolia Plantation, which can only be accessed from LA Hwy 1, is located at 5549 Highway 119, Derry.

Seamless Gutters

The institution of enslavement and the act of emancipation have left indelible imprints on many aspects of Cane River life, and the park has been working for many years to uncover the stories of all the people that lived on the two plantations. The process was a long one, and one that is still ongoing. Each luminary represents an enslaved man, woman or child. Groupings of luminaries reflect a moment in time in the plantation’s history. Luminaries will be marked with the names, ages, places of origin and skills of the enslaved individuals when possible. This information has been retrieved from original archives.

“We honor them by finding out their names and remembering their contributions to the landscape, the park and our country,” said Chief of Interpretation Barbara Justice. “It is important that we remember all of the people that helped create the nation, that we remember not just the good parts of our story but also the painful parts. We can’t heal if we don’t acknowledge the pain.”

Anyone who might know more details about enslaved people who lived and worked on Oakland or Magnolia is encouraged to reach out and share. In addition, please contact the park if you would be willing to volunteer to assemble and/or place luminaries on Feb. 20 or Feb. 27.

The grounds of Oakland and Magnolia Plantations are open daily from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nearly 80 original buildings remain, many open for self-guided tours including several that are historically furnished from Wednesday through Sunday. Park staff conducts tours of the plantation grounds daily Wednesday through Sunday. In addition, the park offers a cell phone tour. The Oakland Main House is open for self-guided tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Magnolia Main House is privately owned and is not open to the public. For more information, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/cari, Facebook at www.facebook.com/canerivercreoleNPS or call the park at 318-352-0383, ext. 316.