The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens in Washington D.C. next month. The work of two area photographers will be featured as part of that opening.
Photographer Doug Henderson took photographs of an obscure but important piece of our history: slave castles, they call them. Slave castles were huge fortresses - holding areas for the millions of Africans who were sold into slavery over three centuries and shipped to the Americas.
Doug saw one on a trip to Africa and put together a proposal to go back and find more.
"For a photographer that's kind of the Holy Grail," said photographer Doug Henderson.
Something historic that hasn't been photographed to death. Greg Merrell said he'd finance the trip if he could go.
Greg Merrell: "I said pack your bags."
They spent more than a month photographing these disturbing monuments to slavery. The Smithsonian heard of their project and purchased 15 of the photographs.
"They were tickled to find our stuff; they realized early on they didn't have any photos or videos of the places," Henderson said.
The reaction to the photographs is almost always the same, the men said.
"Almost nobody knows anything about this," said photographer Doug Henderson. "It doesn't show up anywhere."
That's why the Smithsonian is so glad to have their work to help tell that part of African-American history.