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Through Their Eyes

Magnolia Gardens presents stories of the enslaved


February 16, 2017
From Staff Reports

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens will present in February the first in a series of demonstrations in 2017 by living historians to vividly depict the contributions of enslaved people before and after the end of chattel slavery.

“Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved” will be presented from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at the restored cabins that once housed enslaved workers at Magnolia. People who lived in the cabins helped design and maintain Magnolia’s gardens and later were garden guides after the Civil War.

The living history program will include storytelling, outdoor cooking and blacksmithing. It is free with garden admission to Magnolia. Students with valid student identification cards will receive free garden admission the day of this event. The event will also include access to the inside of the cabins for self-guided tours in lieu of the “From Slavery to Freedom” tour.

Tom Johnson, Magnolia’s executive director, said the living history program will not be the last of its kind at Magnolia in 2017. “In February, during Black History Month, we have presented the role that people of African descent have played in the development of Magnolia and the Charleston community.”

“This year, however, we will take a different approach,” he said. “Instead of offering a special black history program in February, we want to bring special programing throughout the year. Black history is part of the American experience and shouldn’t be limited to one month.”

“Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved” will be staged again at Magnolia in July and October. Throughout the year, Magnolia offers its award-winning program “From Slavery to Freedom” tour on a daily basis.

The lineup of presenters for “Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved” includes:

• Gilbert Walker, blacksmithing
• Jerome Bias and Nicole Moore, outdoor cooking
• Dontavius Williams, a portrayal of an enslaved boy named Adam
• Sara Daise and Christine Mitchell, Gullah stories
• James Brown and Joseph McGill, “Life of a Soldier”

“Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved” is offered in cooperation with the Slave Dwelling Project, created by Joseph McGill, Magnolia’s history consultant. Through the Slave Dwelling Project, McGill has traveled to 17 states to spend the night in 91 structures that were once the home of enslaved families. He launched the project at Magnolia nearly seven years ago.

“Living History Through the Eyes of the Enslaved is our opportunity through the Slave Dwelling Project to tell our own stories,” McGill said. “We’ve assembled a group of African American historians who’re doing on-going research to bring to the public up-close and authentic educational demonstrations.”


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