Officials from the Louisiana State Parks removed a misguided sign at an old slave plantation exhibit that read its enslaved inhabitants were “happy and well taken care of.”
On Tuesday, the signage was gone from the historical site, although it’s uncertain how long it hung as part of an exhibit outside a kitchen at the Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville, La., The Advocate reports.
Before the Civil War, some 850 slaves were held at the plantation. However, signage offered a revisionist view of the lives of the captured men and women and children, saying they lived in “prettily built and very comfortable” cabins. It also stated there was a “pretty church for them” that was heated during winters “for their comfort during services.”
“The slaves were well taken care of and happy,” the exhibit sign added.
To further soften the reality of what slavery was, the sign purported that during Christmastime, the slaves gathered and “have a natural musical instinct. It was wonderful how well they succeeded in their melodies.”
The wording of the sign was a “mistake” said Brandon Burris, the deputy assistant secretary of Louisiana State Parks. Burris blamed the messaging on a book called “Rosedown” that was written to highlight the plantation in the 1830s.
“They always come up with ‘Oh, it’s a mistake,’ but no one’s responsible,” Southern University professor Albert Samuels told the outlet. “I wish I could say I was shocked. But there’s still a basic unwillingness to come to terms with the fact that slavery was an awful institution.”
“I’m not saying we should get rid of these things,” Samuels added. “But they need to be put in the proper historical context. We do ourselves no favors by pretending that thing didn’t exist when it did.”