Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History

Thomas Norman DeWolf, author and past member of the Oregon Arts Commission and elected official.

..."And when darkness came to me, my visions brightness gave me hope, and I moved on to find tomorrow." Debbie Kennedy - Founder of Global Dialogue Center

The gentleman in the picture above is Thomas Norman DeWolf. He is the author of Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History. I recently had the opportunity to hear DeWolf at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly June, 2008 in Fort Lauderdale. In an hour and a half workshop, DeWolf recounted his family's involvement in the slave trade that resulted in great wealth for his ancestors on the one hand represented a tragedy of epic proportions that is only still being comprehended among the descendants of African people.

Myrlie Evers-Williams, civil rights leader, chair emeritus of the NAACP and widow of the late Medgar Evers contends that the book 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."

I am still absorbing and processing my feelings having sat in the midst of about 75 to 100 European American Unitarian Universalists and hearing this story directly narrated by someone that had traced their ancestors dastardly deeds. It is one thing to read about it. But another to hear it from such a direct source. I think that I disconnected from my feelings and emotions so that I could hear his words. Before I left I took his picture and obtained contact information so that once I am past the initial emotions I can talk with him about how he is using the proceeds from his book and video to help make a difference? I will grant that his book alone can be a part of a powerful healing but there is something perverted about making money off of the story of his slave trading ancestors that is disturbing. But so as not to sound like a hypocrite I Ghanaians.

Time does not allow me to linger but my thoughts will be on this troubling problem of healing and how best to create spaces to do so. Unitarian Universalists are in a particularly unique position to pioneer such work as religious liberals dedicated to the inherent worth and dignity. Furthermore, the publishing company, Beacon Press is a UU company whose mission if furthered by the successful pursuit of this work and marketing of the book.

Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah
Question: How are you working to dismantle racism? What actions have you taken to interrupt racism? How are you working to foster healing in yourself and others?

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