Slavery's Descendants: Shared Legacies of Race and Reconciliation

Slavery's Descendants: Shared Legacies of Race and Reconciliation

Slavery's Descendants: Shared Legacies of Race and Reconciliation

Slavery's Descendants: Shared Legacies of Race and Reconciliation


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Race remains a potent and divisive force in our society. Whether it is the shooting of minority people by the police, the mass incarceration of people of color, or the recent KKK rallies that have been in the news, it is clear that the scars from the United States’ histories of slavery and racial discrimination run too deep to simply be ignored. But what are the most productive ways to deal with the toxic and torturous legacies of American racism?

Slavery’s Descendants brings together contributors from a variety of racial backgrounds, all members or associates of a national racial reconciliation organization called Coming to the Table, to tell their stories of dealing with America’s racial past through their experiences and their family histories. Some are descendants of slaveholders, some are descendants of the enslaved, and many are descendants of both slaveholders and slaves. What they all have in common is a commitment toward collective introspection, and a willingness to think critically about how the nation’s histories of oppression continue to ripple into the present, affecting us all.

The stories in Slavery’s Descendants deal with harrowing topics—rape, lynching, cruelty, shame—but they also describe acts of generosity, gratitude, and love. Together, they help us confront the legacy of slavery to reclaim a more complete picture of U.S. history, one cousin at a time. 

Funding for the production of this book was provided by Furthermore, a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund (


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781978800762
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 05/10/2019
Edition description: None
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 308,293
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 16 - 18 Years

About the Author

Jill Strauss teaches conflict resolution at Borough of Manhattan Community College, The City University of New York. 

Dionne Ford is the author of Finding Josephine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, More, LitHub, Rumpus, and Ebony, and has won awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and the Newswomens’ Club of New York. 

Table of Contents

Foreword: Coming to the Table Lucian K. Truscott IV xi

Introduction Dionne Ford Jill Strauss 1

Part l Uncovering History

1 President in the Family Shannon Lanier 9

2 So Many Names A. B. Westrick 13

3 The Will, the Woman, and the Archive Catherine Sasanov 23

4 Overcoming Amnesia: How I Learned the Forgotten History of Two Families Linked by Slavery Bill Sizemore 35

5 Oregon's Slave History R. Gregory Nokes 47

6 Seed of the Fancy Maid Rodney G. Williams 54

Part II Making Connections

7 State Line Antoinette Broussard 65

8 The Plantation Cake Leslie Stainton 73

9 Am I Black? Eileen Jackson 81

10 The Immeasurable Distance between Us Thomas Norman DeWolf 87

11 Making Connections Karen Branan 93

12 A Millennial Facing the Legacies of Slavery Fabrice Guerrier 102

Part III Working Toward Healing

13 Standing on the Shoulders of My Ancestors Tammarrah Lee 111

14 So Close and So Far Away Elisa D. Pearmain 118

15 Born Both Innocent and Accountable: A Moral Reckoning Debian Marty 124

16 The Terretts of Oakland Plantation: An Essay of Atonement David Terrett Beumée 137

17 Not a Wound Too Deep Karen Stewart-Ross 149

18 To See: The Blindness of Whiteness Sara Jenkins 158

Part IV Taking Action

19 Digging Up the Woodpile Sharon Leslie Morgan 169

20 On Being Involved Stephanie Harp 179

21 Changing the Narrative Joseph McGill, Jr. 188

22 Tangled Vines: A Bloodline Shaped by Slavery Grant Hayter-Menzies 193

23 A Dream Deferred along Holman's Creek Sarah Kohrs 202

24 A Tale of Two Sisters Betty Kilby Fisher Baldwin Phoebe Kilby 212

Afterword: What a Legacy of Slavery and Racism Has to Do with Me Jill Strauss 225

Postscript: From Branches to Roots Dionne Ford 228

Acknowledgments 233

Bibliography 235

Notes on Contributors 239

Index 249

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