Katy Morlas Shannon
Katy Morlas Shannon is a tenth-generation Louisiana native. She received her master’s degree in History from Louisiana State University and has dedicated her career as a professional historian to uncovering the stories of enslaved people. Currently she is the historian at Laura Plantation, where she co-curated an exhibit about the plantation's enslaved community. Her biography, Antoine of Oak Alley, received the Phillis Wheatley Award for the best biography of 2022 from the Sons and Daughters of the Middle Passage.
2:15 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Cavalier House Bookselling Tent
Antoine of Oak Alley: The Unlikely Origin of Southern Pecans and the Enslaved Man Who Cultivated Them
The story of Antoine is emblematic of countless enslaved people whose lives and contributions have been overlooked. Antoine, the enslaved gardener of Oak Alley Plantation, was the first person to successfully propagate the pecan tree yet he exists only as a footnote in the bigger story of Oak Alley Plantation. His pioneering work enabled large groves of trees to be planted creating a lucrative commercial crop and though his horticultural achievement has long been legend, virtually nothing is known about his life. Historian Katy Morales Shannon utilizes extensive research and period documents to expose his story and explore the lives of the enslaved community in which he lived. The life of this truly revolutionary enslaved man is revealed through the lives of his family and friends, the community they built, and the bonds they forged during their enslavement and their life as free people.
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