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The Descendants Project Ensures the Preservation of the Site of America’s Largest Slave Insurrection with Purchase of Louisiana Plantation

The Announcement During Black History Month Underscores the Organization’s Commitment to the Truthful Telling of Louisiana’s Rich African American History and Environmental Justice

WALLACE, La., Feb. 15, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Descendants Project announced today the acquisition and preservation of the Louisiana plantation where America’s largest slave revolt was initiated in 1811 – a step that will ensure the vibrancy of a major Black historic landmark that faced an uncertain future.

Commonly known as Woodland Plantation, the site was acquired by The Descendants Project to ensure its protection and to amplify the history of freedom-seeking men and women who initiated the German Coast Uprising in 1811. The Descendants Project has championed the truthful telling of St. John Parish’s rich African American history, the preservation of Black historic sites, and the inclusion of Black descendants in the sustainable culture and heritage economy that Louisiana offers.

“Acquiring the Woodland property is an extension of The Descendants Project’s mission to preserve and protect the health, legacy, land, and lives of the Black descendant community in Louisiana’s River Parishes,” said Dr. Joy and Jo Banner, sisters and co-founders of The Descendants Project, whose ancestors were enslaved in area plantations. “We are humbled and grateful for this opportunity and are committed to engaging with descendants still living next to Woodland Plantation as well as our descendant communities on the West Bank of the River Parishes.


The announcement, which comes during Black History Month, puts the plantation under Black ownership for the first time in its 231-year history.

Environmental justice, particularly the “Plantation to Plant throughline” will be a focus of the site’s interpretation and educational programming. The effort follows The Descendants Project’s ongoing advocacy to protect its community of Wallace from a 250-acre grain terminal that would pump more than 100 tons of dangerous pollution into the air and virtually wipe out the community’s quality of life.

“It’s no coincidence that the same path the enslaved men and women marched to the city of New Orleans in 1811 during the revolt is today one of the most polluted areas of Cancer Alley and is disparately impacting Black communities. Ensuring the preservation of the site is an opportunity to grow a healthy, responsible, and inclusive economy for those of us who are often left out,” said Dr. Joy and Jo Banner. “Telling the story of our ancestors is vital to a true telling of the American story and bolsters the economic health of our community through heritage tourism on both sides of the Mississippi River.”

Still in the planning phase, the site will offer opportunities for community members to engage in archaeology, heritage and tourism, and museum studies. It will also offer an arts and culture program inspired by legendary trombonist and jazz bandleader Edward “Kid” Ory, who was born in 1886 at Woodland Plantation.

Last year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish one of the "11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2023" due to the potential influx of industrial pollution from the proposed terminal.


The Descendants Project is a 501c3 nonprofit organization established to support descendant communities in river parishes working together to dismantle the legacies of slavery and to achieve a healed and liberated future.

CONTACT: Kimberly Hefling The Descendants Project