McLeod Plantation, originally built as the residence of the middle-class McLeod family in 1851, opened its doors in April of 2015 as a museum geared toward interpreting the experience of the enslaved peoples who once populated the territory. In addition to touring the home of the plantation owners, guests can also visit the preserved dwellings of the enslaved people that once littered the entryway to the home. This row of houses known during the Antebellum era as “slave row” served as a symbol of not only wealth and status for the owners but also oppression for the owned. The preserved dwellings are today known as “Transition Row” and a guided tour of the quarters illuminate the mixture, creation, and perseverance of Afro-American cultures and the fortitude of the enslaved peoples harbored within the white washed-walls. Moreover, these modest cabins remained occupied by African Americans into the early 1990s.
Shawn Halifax, the onsite Cultural History Interpretation Coordinator, recently gathered members of the Lowcountry Oral History Alliance in order to stimulate a dialogue on how best to acquire and incorporate the oral histories of former McLeod Plantation residents without exploiting the experiences of these people. Dr. Mary Battle, Public Historian at the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture, along with Mary Jo Fairchild, Manager of Research Services, Special Collections at College of Charleston, provided keen insight and suggestions on devising an oral history workshop where the stories of these peoples will be obtained in an ethical manner. The narratives of these people are, “essential to understanding Charleston’s complex past and helped shape who we, as a nation, are today (ccprc.com).”
For more information on McLeod Plantation, please visit: https://www.ccprc.com/1447/McLeod-Plantation-Historic-Site