Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, the annual celebration of recognizing the achievements of Black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.
The event was the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans, and the event initially began as a week of recognizing Black American achievements.
Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.
Marathon Petroleum has a unique local connection to Black History. In 1976, Marathon (then Marathon Oil Company) purchased the Garyville Refinery sitting on a portion of the 3,500-acre San Francisco Plantation.
Marathon Petroleum does not own the plantation today, but we are a proud partner to the San Francisco Plantation Foundation and provide support through board memberships, financial contributions, facility projects, community events, and volunteerism.
Until recently, tourists visiting the plantation could take a guided tour of the house that provided little information or focus on the enslaved people whose forced labor made the plantation sustainable. In 2015, a committee of Garyville Refinery employees partnered with the plantation in a research project aimed at bringing greater prominence to the lives of the Black Americans who helped build what was the state of Louisiana’s largest economic commodity.
The initial phase of the project was completed in 2016, resulting in a more balanced historical view of the plantation’s history.
There are several distinct changes with the new tour experience.
The house tour is more rounded and includes the role of enslaved people in everyday life; the self-guided tour of the grounds provides more information through story boards and highlights the skills and value that the enslaved people brought to the plantation; and statues have been added to the buildings on the grounds.
We are grateful for the privilege to partner with the San Francisco Plantation Foundation and leading the effort to enhance the plantation tour with a more balanced historical view.