Jo Banner and Joy Banner, founders of The Descendants Project, have taken a significant step towards preserving the historical legacy of Black Americans by acquiring the Woodland Plantation in LaPlace, Louisiana. According to TheGrio, their unwavering commitment stems from a deep-rooted understanding of the plantation’s pivotal role in history and a determination to authenticate its story.

Raised on the West Bank of the Mississippi River, Jo Banner and her sister Joy Banner were steeped in the tales of their grandmother, who recounted the harrowing events of the 1811 revolt by enslaved people.

The uprising, often overshadowed in historical narratives, saw the brave resistance of individuals like Charles Deslondes and approximately 25 others who sought freedom amidst the brutal oppression of slavery.

The Banners’ acquisition of the plantation marks a significant moment in the ongoing struggle to preserve Black history. After years of discussions with the previous owner, Timothy Sheehan, about safeguarding this heritage, the sisters finalized the purchase in January for $750,000. With the transaction completed, they now hold stewardship over a property that witnessed one of America’s largest uprisings of enslaved people.


Their nonprofit organization, The Descendants Project, focuses on preserving and protecting the Black descendant community in Louisiana’s River Parishes. The Woodland Plantation, nestled in St. John the Baptist Parish, holds immense historical significance, encompassing 4,000 square feet of space on four acres of land.

According to Sharlene Sinegal-DeCuir, an associate professor of history at Xavier University, the Banners’ initiative is profoundly impactful. It provides an opportunity for descendants of the enslaved to reclaim their narrative, offering a counterbalance to historical accounts that often marginalize their contributions.

In addition to preserving the plantation’s history, the Banners said they intend to use the space as a hub for community engagement. By offering genealogy resources and facilitating discussions on environmental justice, they aim to create a welcoming environment where Black voices are heard and honored.

The fight against environmental degradation in the region, epitomized by Greenfield Louisiana LLC’s proposed construction of a grain elevator export plant, underscores the ongoing struggle for justice. For Jo Banner, the significance of their ownership extends beyond mere property rights.

It represents a reclaiming of space and identity, ensuring that future generations connect meaningfully with their heritage. As they embark on this journey, the Banners said they are determined to ensure that the Woodland Plantation remains a beacon of hope and empowerment for all who visit.

“Knowing that home’s history and everything that happened, that our names are going to be put in the paperwork of this home, that you’re going to see it going all the way from the 1700s and White ownership and all of a sudden that they got more melanin on that title history, we’re already seeing how impactful that is for us to be in this space just as Black women,” Jo Banner told The Grio. “We’re going to provide access to the history in a way that Black people can feel welcome in the space.”

—Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Senior National Correspondent This article was distributed by NNPA Newswire.