I can remember 20-30 years ago coming to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and seeing a row of old cabins alongside a large field. Those cabins had been built back in the time of slavery, and were still being used 100 years later, principally to house migrant laborers. They were eventually condemned and torn down.
When Republicans argue that “Civil Rights” are achieved – they discount the experiences of many living black folks old enough to have grown up under Jim Crow, and possibly have known people who were held as slaves.
As if 50 years of ending Jim Crow has erased the experiences of generations of black people.
It was a cabin that housed people who were enslaved starting in 1853 on Edisto Island, S.C. In 2017, the restored structure sits in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, helping to tell the often overlooked and covered-up stories of our nation’s history. But to Isabell Meggett Lucas, 87, the cabin also tells the story of her own family and her childhood, having been born in that same cabin several decades ago.
Lucas visited the museum Tuesday with several members of her family, amazed to see the two-room wooden house, where she lived with her large family of 11 on Edisto Island, standing before her as a museum exhibit, NBC Washington reports.
“I never knew this all would come to pass,” she said. “Everybody is excited and happy.”
The Point of Pines Plantation “slave cabin” was the only remaining cabin of some 10 that were built in a row on the same patch of land on the planation. The land and cabins were originally owned by Charles Bailey, who had acquired his wealth through slavery, museum curator Nancy Bercaw told the news site.
However, Lucas said that growing up, she did not know that enslaved people had once lived in the space she called home. She recalled sleeping in one of the two bedrooms with her nine brothers while her parents shared the other room.
“When I was a child, we’d get out and play and climb trees.” Lucas said. “I remember my grandmother cooking and feeding us”
According to the news site, Lucas was raised by her grandmother, whom she thought was her mother. She only learned about the identity of her mother after her grandmother died. Her paternal grandparents lived in the same community, in separate cabins.
The cabin did not have electricity, so the children had to do chores such as fetching wood for the stove. The family had a garden behind the house, where they grew okra and beans, and they raised chickens and hogs for food.
Lucas’ mother was also born in the cabin, but moved out in 1981 after the owners sold it.
The cabin was given to the Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society, before eventually being donated to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, painstakingly taken apart piece by piece and being reconstructed, precisely as it was, within the museum.
On Tuesday, many of Lucas’ family members posed before the reconstructed cabin to take a photo to add the day to the family’s large bank of memories.
“This is the most beautiful thing that could’ve happened—the Meggetts coming forward and visiting us and sharing these stories with us,” Bercaw said.