Meet Mr. Alfred Jackson. Having lived his life as an enslaved person at Andrew Jackson’s the Hermitage, he became a “tour guide” when the Ladies’ Hermitage Association turned the home into a historic site in 1889. Historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of “The Southern Past” expressed “we can only wonder [how] Alfred’s position—an aged former slave who was dependent on his storytelling and white audiences for his livelihood—influenced his voiced memory.” Still, Jackson is recognized for his ability to give a first person account of the way in which the Hermitage mansion functioned as an office and gathering hall for Andrew Jackson who served as President of the United States from 1829 – 1837.
The Hermitage located in Nashville, Tennessee consists of 1,000 acres of land, where cotton was once the cash crop, worked by enslaved African American men, women and children.
Alfred Jackson’s story as an enslaved person and “tour guide” is included in the Hermitage’s current interpretive history offerings. Today, visitors can learn about Alfred’s story through an audio and walking tour, the museum’s multimedia exhibit, and the cabin he and his family resided in as freedmen. Alfred Jackson’s burial site is also located in the garden near Andrew Jackson
Image 1: Alfred Jackson.
Image 2: Alfred Jackson pictured in his home, a cabin that he shared with his wife post-slavery. Note the bed and water cooler. Those were items that Alfred purchased at a Hermitage house auction.
Image 3: Alfred Jackson “tour guide” alongside visitors at the Hermitage historic site.
[photos courtesy of Andrew Jackson Foundation | Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage]
“The Promise: Life, Death, and Change in the Projects”
Reporter Meribah Knight has produced a six-part series podcast on Nashville, Tennessee’s public housing development, James A. Cayce Homes. This story follows the razing and redevelopment stages of Cayce Homes. Knight described yearly household incomes of Cayce’s original residents as being somewhere around $8000 per year.
Redevelopers have coined the revitalization project “Envison Cayce” and the podcast “The Promise” gives an inside look at the enthusiasm and skepticism felt by Cayce’s longtime residents. After the razing of Cayce Homes’ original structures, the contemporary version welcomes a diversified community consisting of young professionals, while giving those who’ve been there for years the choice to remain. Only this choice comes with a no pet policy, at least 50+ security cameras, and “nowhere to sit outside and talk”
Pictured is Big Man, one of the podcast’s interviewees. A longtime resident of James A. Cayce Homes, he signed on to remain in the community to see if the revitalized “Envision Cayce” housing development will turn out to be the imagined safe place for him and his family to live.