The Banner Sisters Acquire Former Louisiana Plantation Where Their Ancestors Were Enslaved


April 12, 2024

Twin sisters Jo and Joy Banner are hoping to heal their ancestral land and right the wrongs of history. They recently purchased the Woodland Plantation in LaPlace, Louisiana, which was the site of the 1811 Slave Revolt, one of the largest uprisings of enslaved people in American history. The plantation was also where the Banner sisters’ ancestors were once enslaved. 

“Knowing that home’s history and everything that happened, that our names are going to be put in paperwork of this home, that you’re going to see it going all the way from the 1700s and white ownership and all of a sudden that they got more melanin on that title history, we’re already seeing how impactful that is for us to be in this space just as Black women,” Jo Banner said to The Grio. “We’re going to provide access to the history in a way that Black people can feel welcome in the space.”

Jocyntia “Jo” Banner and Joyceia “Joy” Banner grew up in Louisiana on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The story of the 1811 uprising has been passed down in her family from generation to generation. The 1811 revolt began at the Woodland Plantation in LaPlace, where over 200 enslaved men and women marched down the Mississippi River for two days until they were surrounded by a local militia. Twenty African Americans were killed in the fighting, and later, 45 enslaved men were executed for participating in the rebellion.


“They were freedom fighters, they were trying to save their lives and the lives of their family,” Jo Banner said.  Now the Banner sisters are fighting to save their family legacy and save the historic land. 

The previous owner of the Woodland Plantation, Timothy Sheehan, had been in talks with the sisters for several years about purchasing the plantation. In 2023, Sheehan contacted the Banner sisters and told them he planned to put the property up for sale and asked if they were interested in buying it. The sisters bought the plantation for $750,000 in January. The purchase included the 4,000-square-foot main building and four acres of land. 


Jo and Joy Banner are founders of The Descendants Project, which seeks to “preserve and protect the health, land, and lives of the Black descendant community located in Louisiana’s River Parishes.” Louisiana River Parishes has retained the tragic nickname Cancer Alley, as the area is already oversaturated with oil and chemical companies that have negatively impacted the environment as well as the health of those who reside in the area. 

The Descendants Project has been fighting to keep Greenfield Louisiana LLC, a Colorado-based grain elevator export company, from building a plant in the River Parishes. The Banner sisters’ purchase of the Woodland Plantation not only helps preserve their family’s history but also effectively blocks the construction of the proposed facility that would further pollute the area and threaten the historic landscape.

“They’re trying to clear all of our communities out and make it a true industrial corridor. So we are getting in the way,” Joy Banner told The 19th


The Banners hope to transform the newly purchased Woodland Plantation and use it to offer genealogy resources for the community’s members who may be interested in researching their ancestry. They also hope to provide a space for conversations about environmental injustice and the preservation of Black history. 

Cover Photo: The Banner Sisters Become First Black Owners Of Louisiana Plantation Where Their Ancestors Were Enslaved / Photo credit: THE DESCENDANTS PROJECT

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