It was 1985. Like many families mine gathered around the TV to watch North and South a Civil War Era Romance. I took a shine to Orry Main, played by Patrick Swayze. That was when I aspired to go see The Avenue of Oaks at Boone Hall Plantation in Charleston, SC. Boone Hall was founded in 1681 as a working plantation and was one of the filming locations for North and South. I first felt the magnitude, appreciation and awe for The Spanish Moss Trees when I finally visited The Avenue of Oaks almost 30 years later. Trees that line the drive up to the main house where planted in 1743 by the Boone Family. The centuries old trees line both sides of the expansive main entrance. From their branches grow thick drapings of Moss. With the growth of these massive trees also grew the conscious of a nation. As you make your way up the drive you see the slave quarters to the right on a street now called Slave Street. Tiny little brick buildings in a row. Today each building is dedicated to preserving history so that we all can remember the blood, sweat and tears that helped build this plantation. Each building is dedicated to a different theme of daily slave life, their struggles and fight for freedom. Under The Spanish Moss nature provided the Slaves a canopy of relief from the harsh realities of life and heat. The day we visited, it was humid and 92 degrees. Outside of the sanctuary of the massive tree line it was oppressive, but one step into the protection of The Spanish Moss and the oppression disappeared. The Moss absorbed the humidity and made the summer heat bearable. Slave families would gather under the protection of The Spanish Moss to rest, celebrate their Gullah heritage, hope, dream,...and grieve. Under those Spanish Moss drapings you can almost feel the grit of spirit for those who used to live in these little brick houses. The Moss holds more than humidity, it holds the hearts and the struggles of those that built the plantation so many years ago. I hope that the whispering of the stories of those times by The Old Spanish Moss can harbor the history and remind everyone to let history teach us lessons of how to become better more heartfelt people, for all those who were and are oppressed. For those who's history is steeped in hard times, take pride in your ancestry and the strength and grit it has passed down. This plantation is a working plantation and if you are ever in Charleston, SC go stand under The Spanish Moss, close your eyes and listen. Be joyful their plight is over and show grace for their sacrifices. The Avenue Of Oaks opened my eyes to more than just the beauty of the trees. -February celebrates Black History Month.
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