These twin sisters just bought Woodland Plantation, where America’s largest slave revolt began in 1811

Dollita Okine April 23, 2024
Today, the sisters have endeavored to obtain the Woodland Plantation. Photo Credit: The Descendants Project

Growing up in Wallace, Louisiana, Jocyntia “Jo” Banner and her sister Joyceia “Joy” Banner first heard of the enslaved people’s uprising in 1811 from their grandmother. Today, the sisters have endeavored to obtain the property where the largest slave rebellion in American history began.

Their grandmother recounted the tale of how people who revolted and battled for their independence had their heads severed and staked along the Mississippi River. Her tale was a recall of the 1811 uprising that started at the Woodland Plantation in LaPlace, Louisiana, where Charles Deslondes and roughly 25 other enslaved people attacked Manuel Andry and his son, leading to the boy’s death.

The rebels grew to almost 500 members when more slaves from neighboring plantations joined them as they marched toward New Orleans. Nevertheless, the soldiers halted them, seized them, and some of them were tried and executed.

Jo Banner told The Grio that she saw the uprising participants as freedom fighters who “were trying to save their lives and the lives of their family.”

She revealed that the sisters had spoken with Woodland Plantation’s owner, Timothy Sheehan, about the value of conserving Black history in the River Parishes a few years prior. Sheehan then got in touch with them in 2023, informing them that he intended to put the property up for sale and asking if they would be interested in buying it.

Through The Descendants Project, a nonprofit organization they created to “preserve and protect the health, land, and lives of the Black descendant community located in Louisiana’s River Parishes,” the Banners paid $750,000 for the property in January.

The purchase includes four acres and the main building, which is 4,000 square feet, according to documents in the St. John the Baptist Parish Clerk of Court Office.

Jo Banner declared that she and her sister intend to run Woodland Plantation in a way that honors the legacy of the enslaved descendant community there, providing genealogy resources to community members who might be interested in learning more about their ancestry and a forum for discussions about environmental injustice.

“Knowing that home’s history and everything that happened, that our names are going to be put in the paperwork of this home, that you’re going to see it going all the way from the 1700s and white ownership and all of a sudden that they got more melanin on that title history, we’re already seeing how impactful that is for us to be in this space just as Black women. We’re going to provide access to the history in a way that Black people can feel welcome in the space,” Jo remarked.

In an ongoing battle, their non-profit organization has been fighting to prevent grain elevator exporter Greenfield Louisiana LLC from constructing a plant in the Louisiana River Parishes region, which is already overrun with chemical and oil companies.

As part of their persistent effort to prevent Greenfield Louisiana from building, the Banner sisters have reportedly filed multiple lawsuits over the past three years, according to the Guardian. As a result, the corporation has been under intense public attention.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 23, 2024


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