Outside of New Orleans we visited the Whitney Plantation Museum. We spent some time in this beautiful and haunting memorial engraved with the names of all people who had been enslaved in Louisiana. The memorial stretched well beyond what I could capture in one photograph.
After slavery ended, a system called “sharecropping” was set up by former slave owners. These former slave owners decided that their former slaves could continue to live and work on their land, but that they would have to pay rent and buy food from the former slave owner. This meant that former slaves started their freedom deeply in debt to their former masters. If a sharecropper managed to pay off their debt, the former slave owner paid them in vouchers that could only be used in the plantation’s own general store. Sharecroppers could also be kicked out of their homes at any time, and for any reason. It was, in effect, still slavery. Sharecropping continued until the 1950s.
There are people alive today who remember working as sharecroppers. It is important for us to remember that racial inequality is not a thing of the past. When we work to bless our world, often the first step is trying to understand the horrible events and systems that exist in our world.