Shared Legacies of Race and Reconcilliation
Thursday, June 6, 7pm
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 al
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.
As a co-editor of this anthology, Dionne Ford worked with colleague Jill Strauss to bring together stories of members of Coming to the Table that would reflect the organization’s vision and practices. Coming to the Table takes its name from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s hope and dream that “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners” would one day sit together at the table of brotherhood. Its vision of a just and truthful society that acknowledges and seeks to heal from the wounds of slavery is put into action with four interrelated practices: uncovering history, making connections, working toward healing, and taking action. Their vision was the blueprint for the book organized into four parts that correspond with the interrelated practices. Whether descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings or perpetrators of a lynching, all of our contributors’ stories of confronting the legacy of slavery bring these four practices to life.
Grants from the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge foundation and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Hedgebrook have also supported her work. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University and a BA from Fordham University.