09.11.2019

Plantations are talking more about slavery - and grappling with visitors who talk back

Plantations are talking more about slavery - and grappling with visitors who talk back MATT MCCLAIN / THE WASHINGTON POST

A Monticello tour guide was explaining how enslaved people built, planted and tended a terrace of vegetables at Thomas Jefferson's estate earlier this summer when a woman interrupted to share her annoyance.

"Why are you talking about that?" she demanded, according to Gary Sandling, vice president of Monticello's visitor programs and services. "You should be talking about the plants."

At Monticello, George Washington's Mount Vernon and other plantations across the South, an effort is underway to deal more honestly with the brutal institution that the Founding Fathers relied on to build their homes and their wealth: slavery.

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