The Field of Angels is a memorial dedicated to 2,200 enslaved children who died in St. John the Baptist Parish between the 1820s and the 1860s. Their deaths were documented in the Sacramental Records of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Their names are engraved on granite slabs along with WPA slave narrative quotes which describe the daily lives of enslaved children in the South. Death rates on Louisiana’s cane plantations were relatively high compared to cotton or tobacco plantations. Many of the children honored at this memorial died of diseases, but some of them died under tragic circumstances such as being hit by lightning, drowning, or burning. The Sacramental Records of the Archdiocese of New Orleans also reveal a prevalence of young mothers and high mortality among their children. This is also apparent in the documents related to Whitney Plantation, which show that some women enslaved here had their first children by the age of 14. During the period 1823-1863, the era depicted in this memorial, thirty-nine children died at Whitney Plantation, almost one per year. Only six had reached the age of five.
This memorial is anchored by a powerful bronze statue by Rod Moorehead called Coming Home. This statue depicts a black angel carrying a baby to heaven. Moorhead’s work ranges from small clay figures to large bronzes. In 1993 he started Southside Gallery in Oxford, Mississippi, and was co-owner until 1997. Among his public commissions are Concerto, a seventeen foot bronze of a violinist and cellist which stands in front of the Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi, and a life-size sculpture of James Meredith for the Civil Rights Memorial also at the University of Mississippi. He has work in the Roger Ogden Collection in New Orleans, and the collection of Morgan Freeman, among others.