Forks of the Road needs to be saved

Published 12:05 am Sunday, October 20, 2013

Forks of the Road must be preserved. A housing development adjacent to this sacred ground is not wise.

Many other sites are far better-suited for such development. I call this land “sacred” as it was here that thousands of human beings suffered deep humiliation, pain and brutal separation of families.

We cannot change the past, but we can be changed by our past. The beautiful city of Natchez was built on the labor of people brought here against their wills. They endured, and we have so much to learn from them. We cannot live in DENIAL. Forks of the Road represents the dark side of the history of Natchez, that for so long was little discussed. The story is so disturbing that most people would prefer to not think about it. Yet ignoring this major part of our history makes us look ignorant and psychologically undeveloped.

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In Vienna, Austria, there is a statue of people with their heads in the sand with the inscription, “Never Again.” Tourists visit the concentration camps throughout Europe. Every German school child is taught the reality of the horror what happened to the Jewish people. We in Natchez must own our own past and honor those who were brought and sold as cattle there at Forks of the Road, the second-largest slave site in our country.

As a community, we must wake up and come together for the sake of our dignity to not let this land and the adjacent land become a housing project. It is far too important to our history and how we of the 21st century look back on it.

Forks of the Road should, too, be preserved for all times as a part of our National Park. The road has already been paved to make this happen. We cannot be so short-sighted as to let this housing project go forward. There are plenty of lands for a housing project that would improve our community, but not this spot.

Let us not bury our heads in the sand! Look at this spot as it might look with a fully developed park commemorating the strength and endurance of the people who suffered so much at this site. It is holy ground. Our democracy was never perfect. A war was fought over opposing points of view. Only by facing our own reality can we come to learn from the struggles of those who went before us. By doing so our democracy becomes even stronger.

Say “no” to this development at this site.

Mary Jane Gaudet