Local woman donates Nat Turner's bible to Smithsonian museum

13News Now Arrianee LeBeau has the story

(WVEC) -- The bible of historic preacher and slave Nat Turner is on display right now at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. Old Dominion University Women’s Studies Instructor Wendy Porter donated the bible to the museum.

On August 21, 1831, Turner led a slave insurrection from plantation to plantation, killing whites and rallying slaves. According to the Smithsonian, in less than two days, an estimated 60 whites, including men, women and children had been murdered. Porter says one of her family member’s lives was spared after slaves hid her while she was 8 months pregnant.

“When Nat Turner and his followers came to the house to kill my step-father's (Maurice Person) great-great grandmother the slaves in the house hid her. They put her in a cupboard and when Nat Turner and his followers came to the door they said that nobody was home,” said Porter.

Porter’s family had a long running history with Turner. He was captured on her family’s property. For decades Porter’s family owned Nate Turner’s bible.

“When Nat Turner was found on the family property he had with him the Bible. So the Bible was put in the evidence room during the trial and after the trial of Nat Turner the Bible was no longer needed as evidence,” said Porter 

The Smithsonian said Turner’s Bible remained in the Southampton County courthouse storage until 1912, when a courthouse official presented it to members of the Person family. Porter said her step father Maurice Person passed it down to her. The Bible had been a part of the family’s own history.

“It’s just been passed down and passed down. My step father is almost 90 he gave the Bible to me. It’s something that we talked about a lot in the family and I actually took the Bible with me to show and tell in elementary school,” said Porter.

Porter has since donated the Bible to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.

Saturday, February 18. 2017 Porter, staff members and students from ODU will travel to D.C. to visit the museum. It’s a trip organized by the Intercultural Relations Office and in honor of Black History Month.

“We always knew the Bible deserved a better home it was simply kept in a closet. It had a story to tell but it didn't have a platform and now it has the whole world,” said Porter

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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