This Place Matters

By now, if you haven’t heard of Joseph McGill, you may be sleeping under a slave cabin rock. He’s the guy that’s going around South Carolina sleeping in original slave cabins. Okay, so I say that rather casually. Let me further explain.

Joe McGill is a program officer for the Southern Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. His Slave Cabin Project focuses on the need to save these original slave cabins that are still standing all around South Carolina. By spending the night in these original structures, dating over 160 years, he brings attention to the line of thought that, this place matters. I had the pleasure to meet with him recently and just hear from his mouth what this project is and what it means. Mr. McGill brought up an amazing point that I feel is important to the story of slavery in the United States. How is it that people will travel far and wide to see plantation homes, like the home at Magnolia Plantation along the Ashley River in Charleston and know that the home is a reproduction because the original structure burned down, but will not go to see the slave cabin row that they have, which are all original structures. There is a reason why some of the cabins are still standing when they should have long deteriorated. I believe they are waiting for someone to come and tell their story and let the world know that that place does indeed matter.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out what he’s doing, click on the link. Trust me, if you’re not blown away by what he’s doing, then I can’t help you. All I know is that this project has a way to catapult how slave life is interpreted, especially at sites that have original structures still standing. There is power in that, it lets you know that this place matters.

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