Forks of the Road exhibit important to see

Published 12:01 am Thursday, February 1, 2018

Words fail to adequately describe what happened at the Forks of the Road in Natchez.

The site of the second largest slave market in the South contains few reminders of the place where human lives were bought and sold as a commodity.

Where words fail, a new exhibit at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center succeeds in shining a light on the atrocities that occurred at the intersection of Liberty Road, St. Catherine Street and Washington Road — what we now call D’Evereux Street.

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The exhibit details why the site is important not just to Natchez, but to the region and entire nation.

With images of newspaper advertisements announcing negroes for sale, bills of sales detailing the price of individual slaves and other historical documents, the exhibit provides a chilling look into the slave business of the slave trade in Natchez.

Organized and designed by local historian Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-C.M. Boxley, the exhibit has spent the last five years traveling across the United States, making its debut in 2012 at Purdue University in Indiana to its most recent stop at Northeast Illinois University in Chicago.

The exhibit was unveiled Tuesday night in conjunction with a meeting of the National Park Service Regional Leadership Council members and park superintendent representatives from 10 southeastern states.

The panels will remain on display through February, a month devoted to honoring black history in America.

While the entire story of a place cannot be told in one single exhibit, Boxley provides insight into an essential chapter of Natchez history — a chapter that should be required reading for us all.