How the Word Is Passed

by Clint Smith

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In How the Word Is Passed, how does the Monticello Plantation's presentation of its own history compare to Whitney's?

In How the Word is Passed, the Monticello Plantation's presentation of its own history compares to Whitney's in a negative fashion in that it has yet to face up to its role in perpetuating slavery.

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The difference between the Monticello Plantation and the Whitney Plantation really couldn't be greater in relation to how they deal with their respective roles in perpetuating the institution of slavery.

Whereas the Monticello Plantation, once owned by Thomas Jefferson, has yet to come to terms with its legacy of slavery, the Whitney Plantation is dedicated to the Black experience as it was shaped by the so-called peculiar institution.

Although Monticello acknowledges that Jefferson owned vast numbers of slaves, it is the third President of the United States and not the Africans he kept in a state of forced servitude that is the main focus of this historical property.

With Whitney, it is a completely different story. Slaves are at the front and center of the plantation's story. These long-dead men, women, and children, who toiled on this plantation for many years, are finally given a voice, something that would never have happened when they were alive.

To put the main difference between Monticello and Whitney in a nutshell, the former historical property's main focus is on a slave owner, Thomas Jefferson, whereas the latter's focus is on the slaves who lived and died within its grounds. It is only because Whitney has adopted such an approach to history that it has been able to come to terms with the horrors of the past.

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