Former plantations built by slaves powerfully remind us, whatever our backgrounds, to join our sufferings to Christ's for the sins of the world.
Two years ago, while visiting friends in South Carolina, my husband Chris and I visited Mansfield Plantation Bed & Breakfast, just outside of Charleston. It was a lovely place — so much so that it was featured in the film “The Patriot” — but more lovely still because of what was happening there. The current owner, John Parker, is a descendant of the original owner. He bought the plantation in 2004, after it had been out of his family’s hands for decades. Then, not long after he purchased it, he reconnected with Dwight Parker, a descendant of a former Mansfield slave. Together, they’ve been working to preserve the story of the slaves who built and worked the plantation.
Over the past decade, the two men — one black, one white — have preserved slave cabins, as well as the old slave meeting house, schoolhouse, and cemetery. More is in the works. The friendship and partnership these men have formed, and the work they’ve done to both honor the slaves and tell the whole story of the plantation, is remarkable. During our stay there, Chris and I both felt an overwhelming sense of peace. Healing was happening on once bloodied ground, and the peace made possible by that healing was palpable.