NEW ORLEANS – Whitney Plantation owner John Cummings is speaking out against persistent rumors that he was involved with the recent removal of four Confederate-era statues across New Orleans.
In a full-page ad taken out in the New Orleans Advocate on May 28 titled “An Open Letter from the Cummings Family and Whitney Plantation,” Cummings seeks to quiet those allegations once and for all.
Cummings begins his open letter by citing businessman Frank Stewart’s recent open letter, in which he chastised New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and referenced “someone who makes a profit selling the history of slavery” as one of Landrieu’s key allies in the removal of the statues.
According to the Whitney Plantation website, it is “the only plantation museum in Louisiana with a focus on slavery,” and daily tours are available for a fee.
Cummings said Stewart’s veiled barb, along with “unsubstantiated allegations” in newspapers and blogs all infer that the Confederate monument removal process was “either masterminded or paid for by the Cummings family, and that these monuments would be relocated to the grounds of the Whitney Plantation.”
These rumors, Cummings insists, are not true.
“Neither John Cummings, the Cummings family, nor the Whitney Plantation have paid anything to anyone towards the effort to remove the four statues recently taken down by the City of New Orleans,” he wrote. “Those four statues will not be relocated to the Whitney Plantation or to any other property owned or controlled by any Cummings family member.”
The Whitney Plantation is designed to honor the lives of the “men, women, and children who were forced to work against their will during a period of 250 years,” Cummings wrote.
The statues represent “a rebellion against the United States, which aimed to keep those we honor enslaved,” so placing those statues at the Whitney would be contrary to the museum’s entire purpose, Cummings said.
The allegation that the Cummings family “makes a profit selling the history of slavery” is also false, Cummings said.
“To date, the Cummings family has spent millions of dollars to preserve and restore the historical site at Whitney (acknowledged as a national historical district) and to create an opportunity for visitors to begin to understand slavery and its aftermath,” he wrote. “None of that money will be repaid to the Cummings family.”
Legal documents have already been filed to donate the entire entity as a non-profit corporation, Cummings said, plans which had to wait until the Whitney could begin generating enough revenue through ticket sales to become self-sufficient.
Anyone who would like to see for themselves is invited to take a tour, Cummings said.
“Given our goals, Whitney Plantation could never include these statues as part of our mission,” Cummings said. “Never!”