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Remembering the lives of enslaved people by sleeping where they once lived

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Retracing Their Steps

Buildings where enslaved people once lived still exist across the US, but are often overlooked or hidden. Joseph McGill Jr. calls attention to these spaces — by spending a night in them.

About Joseph McGill Jr.

Joseph McGill Jr. is the founder of The Slave Dwelling Project, Inc. Through this project, he spends the night in extant slave dwellings to draw attention to these often neglected structures and the enslaved people who lived in them. For over a decade, McGill was also a history consultant for Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina.

Prior to that, he was a field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. McGill has also served as the Executive Director of the African American Museum in Cedar Rapids, IA, and as the director of History and Culture at Penn Center, St. Helena Island, SC. As a Civil War reenactor, McGill is the founder of Company "I" 54th Massachusetts Reenactment Regiment in Charleston, SC.

This segment of the TED Radio Hour was produced by Harsha Nahata and edited by Sanaz Meshkinpour. You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHour and email us at TEDRadioHour@npr.org.

A special thanks to Kayla Hoey at the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens for field recording support.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Manoush Zomorodi
Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Harsha Nahata
Harsha Nahata (she/her) is a producer for TED Radio Hour. She is drawn to storytelling as a way to explore ideas about identity and question dominant narratives.
Sanaz Meshkinpour
[Copyright 2024 NPR]