Ashton Lattimore shares insights on being a black patron of historic houses and sites and the changes occurring in the field.
Through years of tours of historic colonial sites, antebellum-era plantation houses, and more, we’ve been that black couple in the background raising our eyebrows and keeping a running commentary of sotto vocecorrective facts and cynical asides. Of course, that’s when we have the mental energy to visit these kinds of attractions in the first place. More often, we’re just not up for the whitewashing and the unchallenged Founding Fathers boosterism that pervades so many American history sites.
On a walking tour of the New Orleans Garden District, my husband and I exchanged meaningful glances after the fourth or fifth time our guide delicately referred to the slaves who once worked in those elegant old homes as "servants." To our ears, the reference was absurdly, offensively inapt, as if those enslaved people had been voluntary, paid employees.