“A Physical Place I Could Feel Rooted In”: A Virtual Tour of a Slave Dwelling

Justin Reid’s great-great grandfather Reverend Jacob Randolph Sr., who was enslaved at Ampthill Plantation as a child

James Madison’s Montpelier recently hosted a National Summit on Slavery. They convened scholars, museum professionals, and members of descendant communities to talk about how historic sites can change the way slavery is taught and understood in America.

One of the people at the Montpelier summit was Justin Reid, Director of African American Programs at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, who in 2014 set out to find the Virginia plantation where his ancestors had been enslaved. And he found it.

“I remember as I was looking around, I was standing between the kitchen slave quarter and the main house, like kinda towards the back,” says Reid. “It just came out of nowhere—it was a shock, right—when you have a rush of emotion you don’t expect. It wasn’t this gradual sense of sadness. It wasn’t a sadness, it wasn’t anger, but it was this overwhelming sense of completion. I set out on this journey and I’m here.”

Justin recently worked with our colleagues at Encyclopedia Virginia to take 360-degree imagery of a slave dwelling at Ampthill.