âAn uncommonly detailed, frank, and balanced discussion of racialized practice at a historic site museum.ââKirsti Uunila, historic preservation planner, Calvert County, Maryland
Enslaved African Americans helped transform the United States economy, culture, and history. Yet these individualsâ identities, activities, and sometimes their very existence are often all but expunged from historically preserved plantations and house museums. Reluctant to show and interpret the homes and lives of the enslaved, many sites have never shared the stories of the African Americans who once lived and worked on their land. One such site is Mount Clare near Baltimore, Maryland, where Teresa Moyer pulls no punches in her critique of racism in historic preservation.
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In her balanced discussion, Moyer examines the inextricably entangled lives of the enslaved, free blacks, and white landowners. Her work draws on evidence from archaeology, history, geology, and other fields to explore the ways that white privilege continues to obscure the contributions of blacks at Mount Clare. She demonstrates that a landscapeâs post-emancipation history can make a powerful statement about black heritage. Ultimately she argues that the inclusion of enslaved persons in the history of these sites would honor these âancestors of worthy life,â make the social good of public history available to African Americans, and address systemic racism in America.
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