The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade
Sharon Leslie Morgan, an African American marketing consultant with a passion for genealogy and Thomas Norman DeWolf, a white writer and descendant of plantation owners, met through their work with Coming to the Table, an organization of descendants of slaves and slave owners.
They decided to undertake a journey together to explore the effects of slavery, racism, and privilege. It took them into the living rooms of each other's families, to slave plantations in the Caribbean, and across the American South. They dined inside antebellum mansions, walked the Richmond Slave Trail, and visited the Lincoln Memorial and the graves of each other's ancestors. Along the way, they met people who reflect the range of Americans' attitudes toward race today, from the white woman who tells Morgan that slavery improved the lives of Africans, to the black man who explains how he came to terms with the town statue of a Confederate soldier.
The engaging and sometimes brutally honest story shifts between sections written by Morgan, DeWolf, and both of them together. Morgan doesn’t pull any punches about her general distrust of white people, while DeWolf admits that he, like a lot of white Americans, is uncomfortable talking about race with African Americans and not always good at listening.
Yet their "friendship on purpose" allows the sort of dialogue that moves toward healing the wounds of history. By authentically confronting themselves, each other, and the past that has shaped both black and white Americans, Morgan and DeWolf have created a powerful story of hope, awakening, and reconciliation.
Lisa Gale Garrigues wrote this article for The Human Cost of Stuff, the Fall 2013 issue of YES! Magazine. Lisa is a writer, teacher, and healing consultant based in San Francisco. For information, go to: healingcollectivetrauma.com.
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