BASF dedicates memorial to honor enslaved of former plantation

Scott J. Anderson
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

BASF invited representatives from Ascension Parish, the River Road African American Museum, the United Houma Nation, and members of the descendant community to dedicate a new memorial at the BASF site in Geismar to those who were enslaved on what was previously Linwood plantation.

BASF dedicates a memorial to honor those who were enslaved on what was previously Linwood plantation.

The gathering also commemorated a recently confirmed Indian Mound, a newly preserved historic family cemetery of the former plantation owners located on the Indian Mound, and newly discovered enslaved burial grounds.

The multi-year project was conducted by a team of BASF employees in close consultation with key experts, including the River Road African American Museum, U.S. Park Services from the Department of the Interior, the Louisiana Division of Archeology, the United Houma Nation, the Ascension Parish Clerk of Court, the Donaldsonville Courthouse, Prairie View A&M University and other colleges, libraries and museums.

“This memorial and preservation work is a reflection of who BASF is as a company. If we do something, we do it right – we invested a lot of time, effort and resources to pay tribute to the descendants of our community,” said Michael Heinz, Chairman and CEO for BASF Corporation. “We know this is a special place for the Ascension Parish community and we will make sure to preserve the history to keep the important conversations about the past alive.”

In 2019, BASF began work to preserve the family cemetery on what had served as the Linwood Plantation, owned by the Minor family in the 1820s before BASF’s operations. Subsequently, BASF expanded its efforts and embarked on a multi-year project that helped identify more than 300 names of enslaved people who lived and worked on Linwood Plantation.

The team also engaged the River Road African American Museum and local community churches, which facilitated conversations with descendants of the enslaved community. To gather feedback from the community, BASF hosted several meetings to present findings and share plans for the memorial and preservation of the cemetery and burial grounds.

The team also worked alongside the United Houma Nation and the Thomas Minor Society for input and guidance from the descendants of the Native American community and Minor family.

BASF enlisted the assistance of the Louisiana State Archeologists to learn more about the Indian Mound, along with a preservationist with U.S. Park Services, who gave guidance on the proper display of remaining headstone pieces from the historic cemetery, while properly protecting the Indian Mound. The entire area including the family cemetery, Indian Mound and enslaved burial grounds is now recognized as a designated state historical cemetery.

“As an employee of BASF and a descendant of the enslaved and Native American communities, it has been incredibly rewarding to be a part of this project,” said Paulette Rosamond, EHS Specialist who has been employed with BASF for nearly 50 years. “I’m proud to work for a company that pours tremendous time and resources into efforts that help us remember our community’s history, pay tribute to those laid to rest here and hold authentic conversations about how we can learn from our past and use those learnings to do better in the future.”

BASF will continue to work on the esthetic development of the memorial site, the cemetery and burial grounds. Additionally, the company will offer educational opportunities for local students in collaboration with the community on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). BASF will also use this project with employees globally to encourage conversations about history and the important role of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Our team members at BASF have poured thousands of hours into this project to make certain we are properly documenting history and sharing it with our community and fellow employees,” said Jerry Lebold, Senior Vice President and General Manager of BASF in Geismar. “At our Geismar site, we live by the vision of valuing people above all else. It is through these efforts that we can demonstrate that value and honor people who received none in life. We also want to ensure that anyone who interacts with BASF – employees, community members and customers – will be valued and respected.”