Monticello Kicks-Off Black History Month

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

On Friday, February 4th, Celia Prehn gave what she described as a special tour. It was a tour of Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson.

This tour, however, wasn't just about Jefferson. The tour was about the people in his life, the people we don't often hear about, his slaves.

"When you start learning more about the enslaved workers, they are so visible to you and so apparent and you want to start telling your visitors more about that side of the house, the people who labored for his comfort, said Prehn, a Monticello tour guide.

Thomas Jefferson had over a 130 slaves, many of them waited on him hand and foot, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until they were eventually auctioned off.

It was a slave that stood at his bedside making sure each pillow was fluffed the day he died.

These are the stories that draw visitors.

"I was especially moved by the slave that spent ten years working to buy his wife back, I thought it was very interesting," said tourist Bill O'Neal.

The rarely told stories of these enslaved workers are exactly what has made Monticello's annual tour during Black History Month so popular.

"At any one time there were more slaves living and working at Monticello than there were Jeffersons so we thought it would be nice to put the emphasis on them," said Wayne Mogielnicki, Monticello Director of Communications.

Emphasis on the founding fathers that are often forgotten.


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