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Woman Returns To Her Slave Cabin Childhood Home In The Smithsonian

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Emily Meggett (left) and Isabell Meggett Lucas sit together at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in front of a slave cabin on display that they grew up in.
Carolyn Kaster, AP
Emily Meggett (left) and Isabell Meggett Lucas sit together at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in front of a slave cabin on display that they grew up in.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C, has many artifacts connected to slavery. For one woman, visiting the museum this week was a literal homecoming.

Isabell Meggett Lucas was born and raised in a wooden house in coastal South Carolina. Slaves lived in that house during the 1800s.

The Smithsonian bought the structure and moved it plank by plank to the new African-American museum where it is now on display.

NPR's Ari Shapiro spoke with Meggett Lucas, who is now in her 80s, and her sister-in-law, Emily Meggett, about what it was like to revisit Meggett Lucas' childhood home. Eleven people lived in the wooden two-bedroom house that had no running water, no electricity and a wood-powered stove.

Meggett Lucas says that growing up they didn't know their house was a slave cabin.

"I guess it was a rough time for [the slaves] because it was rough for us, too," Meggett Lucas says. " 'Cause my mother had to work ... they had nothing to do but farm work, no education. ... I don't think that [my parents] ever thought that they lived in a slave cabin. I don't think that. I think that that was they home, and they felt comfortable there, and they felt happy there."

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