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.