[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/07/16/michelle.obama.slaveroots/art.slavehome.cnn.jpg caption="This is a former slave house on Friendfield Plantation, where Michelle Obama's family has roots."]
Joe Johns | BIO and Justine Redman
In many places across the South you can walk in the footsteps of slaves, and if you understand the history, it is not a happy journey. The same is true at Friendfield Plantation outside Georgetown, South Carolina.
It's not exactly "Gone With the Wind," but what makes this overgrown 3,300 acres of marsh and pine trees stand out is this: The family of first lady Michelle Obama believes her great-great grandfather was held as a slave here and labored in the mosquito-infested rice fields.
It makes Friendfield Plantation a symbol of something more than servitude. It's the symbol of something that's never happened before: One important segment of an American family's journey from the humiliation of slavery to the very top of the nation's ruling class.
CNN recently was the first television network allowed to visit the plantation and shoot video. It's not a museum. It's just private land, still with shadows of its past.
Friendfield's most distinctive historical feature, perhaps, is the dirt road known as Slave Street.
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