Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade

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Overview

When Thomas Norman DeWolf learned he descended from the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history, it changed his life. He became sensitized to white privilege, America's history of slavery and the continuing legacy of racism. He participated in a family journey that resulted in the Emmy-nominated film Traces of the Trade and the publication of his book Inheriting the Trade.

Sharon Leslie Morgan's epiphany came as she researched her family genealogy and found at least a dozen...

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Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade

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Overview

When Thomas Norman DeWolf learned he descended from the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history, it changed his life. He became sensitized to white privilege, America's history of slavery and the continuing legacy of racism. He participated in a family journey that resulted in the Emmy-nominated film Traces of the Trade and the publication of his book Inheriting the Trade.

Sharon Leslie Morgan's epiphany came as she researched her family genealogy and found at least a dozen people who had been enslaved. That some of these ancestors were fathered by white men exacerbated feelings of alienation and anger. She re-visited the past to make sense of her present and helps others do the same through her Our Black Ancestry website.

In 2008, Tom and Sharon embarked upon a "healing journey." They committed to learning more about the legacy of slavery, its impact on their lives, and the implications for people throughout the United States and internationally.

Two people from diverse backgrounds share the stories of their lives, those of their ancestors, and their journey together. Gather at the Table offers productive ways to discuss race using an approach that leads to understanding and healing for individuals and communities.

Praise for Inheriting the Trade:
"Tom DeWolf's deeply personal story, of his own journey as well as his family's, is required reading for anyone interested in reconciliation. Healing from our historic wounds, which continue to separate us, requires us to walk this road together."
—Myrlie Evers-Williams, civil rights leader, chairman emeritus of the NAACP (1995-98), and author of The Autobiography of Medgar Evers, Watch Me Fly, and For Us the Living

"Inheriting the Trade is like a slow-motion mash-up, a first-person view from within one of the country's founding families as it splinters, then puts itself back together again."
—Edward Ball, author of Slaves in the Family

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  • Gather at the Table
    Gather at the Table  

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An instructive journey of reconciliation. DeWolf (Inheriting The Trade: A Northern Family Confronts its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History, 2008) is a descendant of a family of slave traders; Morgan is the descendant of slaves. Together, they set out to discover how the shared legacies of violence and brutality continue to affect perpetrators and victims in every aspect of life. Starting with their respective family's culture, food and entertainment, the authors attempted to better understand their differing emotions and reactions to slavery, racism and prejudice. Their project came together after they met in 2008 at the Coming to the Table program at Eastern Mennonite University and participated in programs like EMU's Trauma Healing Journey. DeWolf describes how he discovered segregation in Alabama in 1970 as a member of a church choir. Morgan writes about the reception she was accorded when she was trying to organize a music festival on Alabama's Gulf Coast in 1994. As trust developed, the authors combined their skills to investigate both their families' histories. Morgan's genealogical expertise and her ability to glean pertinent information from old county records and tombstones were matched by the capabilities DeWolf had developed working on Inheriting the Trade. Between 2008 and 2011, the authors traveled more than 100,000 miles in 27 states, investigating old plantations and other loci of the slave trade. The authors' accomplishment stands on its own, but their book also serves as a great introduction to a shared past that ought to be better known.
From the Publisher
“Gather at the Table is an honest exploration into the deep social wounds left by racism, violence, and injustice, as the authors work through their own prejudices in search of reconciliation--and ultimately find friendship.”
—Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate
 
“I could not put this book down. Gather at the Table is an extraordinary story of an honest, meaningful conversation across the racial divide. At times it hurts to read. And well it should. Centuries of injustice and trauma that face us every day in this country have no place for half-truths. Sharon and Tom took the harder road—searching for healing, they literally walked together into painful histories and found authentic friendship.”
—John Paul Lederach, PhD, author of The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace
 
“A great introduction to a shared past that ought to be better known.”
Kirkus Reviews
 
“What a courageous journey—communicated in an engaging, readable style with candor, humor, and deep feeling. This book shed light on the thoughts, questions, and feelings I have about race, society, culture, and historical, generational, and structurally induced trauma—and the human ability to transcend. In reading it, I realized there are questions I’m still afraid to ask about race, things I’m afraid to say, and yet I realized anew the power of acknowledgment, mercy, justice, and conflict transformation. I’m grateful to DeWolf and Morgan for not just taking the journey but for sharing their story with us.”
—Carolyn Yoder, founding director of STAR: Strategies for Trauma Awareness & Resilience

“Sharon and Tom take us on a heart-opening journey of awakening. As a nation, we owe them a deep bow of gratitude as they help us navigate the deep divides of race and otherness.”
—Belvie Rooks, cofounder, Growing a Global Heart

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807014417
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 10/9/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 965,108
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Norman DeWolf, author of Inheriting the Trade, is featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary film Traces of the Trade, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and on the acclaimed PBS series POV. DeWolf speaks regularly about healing from the legacy of slavery and racism at conferences and colleges throughout the United States.
 
Sharon Morgan is a marketing communications consultant and a nationally recognized pioneer in multicultural marketing. An avid genealogist, she is the webmaster for OurBlackAncestry.com and is a founder of the Black Public Relations Society. 

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  • Posted June 7, 2013

    A pattern for reconciliation

    I consider myself a peace maker. I have long been interested in the issue of slavery and how one person could think it okay to own another. Here is a book of two people trying to reconcile with their personal heritages. One was the descendant of a family of slave owners, the other a descendant of slaves. Some of the places DeWolf and Morgan visited, I have visited. Their discussions were honest, raw, and deep. Even 150 years after emancipation, slavery is a wound not completely healed. We need a lot more people meeting one on one and listening to each other to bring about a full healing. This book provides a wonderful pattern.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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