NATCHEZ -- The preservation of Forks of the Road slave market has gained recognition in a nationally distributed magazine.
Natchez resident Ser Sesh ab-Heter C.M. Boxley was recently recognized in the November issue of Smithsonian Magazine, in an article titled, "Retracing Slavery's Trail of Tears: America's forgotten migration -- the journeys of a million African-Americans from the tobacco South to the cotton South."
The Forks of the Road is an area that from approximately 1833 until the Civil War was a huge slave market. It is located at the intersection of Liberty Road and St. Catherine Street.
"Millionaires were created from cotton, and thousands upon thousands of enslaved people were forced-brought (south)," Boxley said.
He calls this exodus the Passages of Sorrow.
Boxley said that the Smithsonian Magazine's coverage is a symptom of a positive change among historians.
"For 20 years, the story has been uncovered. It's been spreading," he said. "It's its own story, I'm just advocating about it. The story exists on its own."
Boxley said the Forks of the Road site is just as important as any other historic site in Natchez.
"It's part of our story, our international story. That's its rightful purpose," he said. "If you're going to talk about slavery in America and you don't talk about the slavery as evidenced by the Forks of the Road, you're not telling the story."
Boxley said that while the histories of white slave owners have been preserved and cherished in Natchez, the histories of former slaves have been ignored or deliberately obfuscated.
"There is a reluctance of people who are responsible for telling the history to tell the truth," he said. "I've stepped up to the plate and show and tell the history (of enslaved people in Natchez) that is as much a part of Natchez, America, and Mississippi as any other story. It stands on its own."
Boxley said that he feels many in Natchez prefer to learn the history of slave-owners, and not the history of slaves.
"They learn the physical history, but not the human history. That history is omitted. It's not told; it's not shown. There's a human story that has to be told," Boxley said.
"There are spirits here, there are energies here. It's undeniable," Boxley said.