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Alumnus who spearheaded construction of first slavery museum in U.S. speaks at Loyola

Loyola press release - April 15, 2015

A Loyola University New Orleans alumnus and retired trial lawyer, who this past December opened the first museum dedicated solely to the history of slavery in the U.S., will present a free campus lecture on Wednesday, April 29 at 7 p.m. in Nunemaker Auditorium.

John Cummings, M.B.A. ’61, J.D. ’61, owner of the Whitney Plantation Museum in Wallace, La., will speak about his vision for the museum, which tells the story of some of the darkest moments in American history. Cummings will be joined by Ibrahima Seck, Ph.D., director of research at the Whitney.

During their talk at Loyola, Cummings and Seck will discuss the plantation’s role in Louisiana history, the process by which it was acquired, the challenges in bringing the museum to reality, as well as the community response.

Located an hour west of New Orleans, the Whitney Plantation encompasses 250 acres of land and once served as a home to one of the largest slaveholders in the state, the Haydel family. The museum consists of exhibits, memorial artwork and hundreds of first-person slave narratives. Cummings, who is also a real estate investor, pumped millions of his own dollars into making the museum a reality, including the purchase of several historical buildings and artifacts that he had transported to the Whitney grounds.

Cummings and Seck, who were recently featured in an in-depth article in The New York Times, first met in 2000. Although Seck, who is also a member of the history department of Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar in Senegal, got his first glimpse of the plantation when it was still occupied mostly by decrepit buildings, he was impressed and made yearly trips to Louisiana to solidify the plans for plantation. He has lived locally full time since 2012, when he became director of research at the plantation.

For more information, contact James Shields in the Office of Public Affairs at jshields@loyno.edu.