DEERFIELD, Mass. - Historic Deerfield paid tribute to American history Wednesday by unveiling memorials around the museum to the enslaved individuals who once lived in the area.
Historic Deerfield partnered with The Witness Stones Project and revealed 19 memorial plaques at 12 locations around the museum's mile-long street.
According to the museum, around one-third of the individuals who once lived in the area were enslaved, and the plaques have the names of the individuals who they could find information on.
Witness Stones Board of Directors member Pat Wilson Pheanious is one of the descendants of the enslaved families and said growing up in New England, much of the history around slavery was hidden from her.
"So often in the north, people aren't even aware that there was slavery," Pheanious said. "I grew up all my life not knowing about my roots in Connecticut, and I didn't have a sense of connection."
Wilson said the stones honor people from the past, but the memorials are for those who are alive today to acknowledge and embrace their lineage.
"They are a way of recognizing that all of us built this country," Pheanious said. "All of us built America, not some of us. Not just the ones who got noted. Not just the rich. Not just the people without color. All of us built this land and we all own it."
Wilson said the Witness Stones Project has already placed plaques honoring enslaved people in Connecticut and hopes to do similar projects in the future.