Honoring Ancestors

© David Hammons (b. 1943), Nap Tapestry, hair, plexiglass, and wire, 23 × 14 × 6 in. Hudgins Family Collection, New York.

 “I saw behind me those who had gone,and before me those who are to come,and their eyes were my eyes.”

Richard Llewellyn

Whether it was cotton, rice, tobacco, or ceramic production, enslavement of men, women, and children was essential to plantation operations in the pre-Civil War south. Millions of anonymous souls labored as field hands, cooks, domestics, weavers, blacksmiths, coopers, carvers, carpenters, masons, joiners, potters, wet nurses, wheelwrights, silversmiths, house servants, carriage drivers, and fancy maids. But part of the tragedy, is that most of them remain anonymous and unconsidered in American history. We are fortunate that Thomas Porcher’s 1843 estate inventory,  lists the names of all the people he enslaved on White Hall Plantation. Those names are presented here as act of “critical empathy” and commemoration.