I moved to Saint Francisville in and around 1998, and for the most part only had dealings with Audubon SHS. The Audubon Pilgrimage was a big event, one that I was usually recruited to help with in giving tours or demonstrations on games, cooking or more recently medicine/surgery at the time (If a weird dude threatened to cut off your child's arm in the last 10 years it was probably me). The site itself was always good about showing slave life, whether in the museum or on tours or in the pamplets and guides they had on slavery/slave life or on any one of the dozens of slave life programs we've had over the years.
I never really got into the local politics or even really hanging around with anyone from town aside from the few friends I had in High School. And as such I never really learned about what was going on outside of Audubon SHS, but always found it annoying that when the Pilgrimage did come around that we stopped holding ourselves to the normally high standards we do.
Instead letting these... "kind"... folks come in and tell everyone about how beautiful and wonderful everything was in the idealized little slice of america. Especially as more often than not it involved me correcting 90% of what they said while on tour or giving demonstrations. (For those wondering, no, Audubon SHS did not have all the trees, it was a PLANTATION, everything was cut down so slaves could work the land so the slave owners at Oakley could complain about who their daughter married and to run away whenever there was trouble.)
Now, to hear what the Audubon Pilgrimage actually is outside of Audubon SHS. Where Zero mention is made about slave life or the actual unvarnished truth, and where whips??? are apparently sold as souvenirs? God Damn. What the actual hell. It explains why everyone constantly placated the folks running the pilgrimage and just let them white wash the entire thing. (And why we, The Audubon State Historic Site- the thing the pilgrimage was named after, were left off the Audubon Pilgrimage some years when our demonstrations/talks were too "inconvenient")
As someone who has worked at Audubon State Historic Site in the past, and who will continue to attempt through my volunteering talk about the real history of plantation life during the time, I too sign this petition.
At the end of the day History and Truth are far more important than a few extra visits to the site. And honestly, if the few extra visitors are just wanting me to tell them how wonderful the old days were or how "happy those folks" were back in the good ole days I don't want them anyway.
Side Note: Stay Safe, Try to Keep Up With Any School Work, And I hope all you kids are doing well. Some of you annoy the crap out of me but I still worry about ya.
-Mr.House, Substitute Teacher for West Feliciana Parish Schools.