Blog Archives

Tarzan Carried a Message

On 1 March, performer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte celebrated his 88th birthday. On 8 November last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Belafonte with its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award … and honored with an Oscar the man’s long

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Abolitionist, Africa, Arts & Community Culture, Civil Rights/Black Power (1955- 1968), Colonial (Before 1770s), Contemporary (1970- present), Discovery & Personal Reactions, Europe, Film, Historic Harms, Implications for Action, News Media, Racism, Research Adventures, Slaveholding (1780 -1865)

Another “Our Black Ancestry” Miracle!

A couple of weeks ago, Sharon Morgan emailed me to let me know that someone had posted information on her Our Black Ancestry website that linked my slave owning Furman ancestors to the writer’s enslaved ancestors.  This was totally out of

Posted in Ancestry, Connecting Across Families, Cooperation: Assistance, Cooperation: Assistance, Support & Harmony, Discovery & Personal Reactions, Enslaved People, General, Historic Harms, House Slaves / Field Slaves, Legacies, Linked Descendants, Slaveholders, Slaveholding (1780 -1865), Support & Harmony, The Journey

Amazing grace

People ask what drew me to write a biography of Lillian Carter, mother of President Jimmy Carter (Lillian Carter: A Compassionate Life, McFarland & Company, 2014) Aside from the obvious—who wouldn’t want to write about the life of America’s sassiest

Posted in Ancestry, Arts & Community Culture, Civil Rights/Black Power (1955- 1968), Colonial (Before 1770s), Connecting Across Families, Discovery & Personal Reactions, Enslaved People, Farms, Historic Harms, North America, Racism, Slaveholders, Slaveholding (1780 -1865), Support & Harmony

Redrawing A Community – A Washington Descendant’s Journey

In 2010, an archive of rare documents passed down in my family for over 250 years arrived at my home in Austin. Reading them I came face to face with my family’s role in both creating democracy and denying freedom.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Ancestry, Colonial (Before 1770s), Connecting Across Families, Discovery & Personal Reactions, Historic Harms, Legacies, Linked Descendants, North America, Plantations, Racism, Slaveholders, Slaveholding (1780 -1865), The Journey

Looking for Links: First Steps

Introduction This is the first of three posts about my initial efforts to identify linked descendants connected to my slave-owning ancestors on my father’s side of the family in South Carolina.  These ancestors are Wood Furman (1712 – 1783), Richard

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Ancestry, Coercion, Punishment & Sale, Colonial (Before 1770s), Discovery & Personal Reactions, Enslaved People, Historic Harms, Legacies, Linked Descendants, North America, Plantations, Racism, Slave Trader, Slaveholders, Slaveholding (1780 -1865), Slavery

Part I: Facing Slavery and Finding Amanda

This post is the first of three pieces on 1) how I discovered slavery in my heritage, specifically focusing on a woman named Amanda owned by my ancestor Thomas Jackson and his second wife Courtney Robertson; 2) what more that official

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Ancestry, Contemporary (1970- present), Discovery & Personal Reactions, Intimacy & Family Life, Legacies, Linked Descendants, Racism, Slaveholding (1780 -1865)

Up in Smoke: Slavery Researchers Decry Burning of Historical Records

New Post Posted on January 10, 2014 by psmith30 (Post first written on January 4, 2014) I am fighting back tears and my stomach is in knots. Most people probably wouldn’t have a physical reaction like this upon learning that 100

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Abolitionist, Ancestry, Civil Rights/Black Power (1955- 1968), Enslaved People, Farms, Free People of Color, Historic Harms, Implications for Action, Jim Crow Segregation (1890- 1955), Legacies, Linked Descendants, Non-Slaveholding Whites, Plantations, Power, Racism, Reconstruction/”Redemption” (1866- 1890), Research Adventures, Slave Trader, Slaveholders, Slaveholding (1780 -1865), Slavery, Towns

Bittersweet Memories

When I was a small child, there was an old woman I remember seeing when we visited my grandfather’s house on the Southside of Chicago. She was extremely quiet, very tall (although slumped with age), with light brown skin and

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Ancestry, Discovery & Personal Reactions, Enslaved People, Historic Harms, Legacies, Linked Descendants, North America, Racism, Regions, Slaveholding (1780 -1865), Slavery, Status, The Journey

Being Linked Through Slavery Means …

Being a “linked descendant” puts racism and white privilege in a harsh light for me.  It makes speaking out honestly about the legacy of slavery a personal and family imperative. I always knew that my mother’s ancestral roots went back

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in "Side" & Linked Families, Ancestry, Connecting Across Families, Contemporary (1970- present), Discovery & Personal Reactions, Enslaved People, Historic Harms, Implications for Action, Linked Descendants, Plantations, Sex & Concubinage, Slave Trader, Slaveholders, Slaveholding (1780 -1865)

Remembering their names

When I joined Coming To The Table over two years ago, I began a journey—a journey into the lives and times of my slave-holding ancestors and, most important for me, into the lives of the people they had enslaved. Taken

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Abolitionist, Ancestry, Connecting Across Families, Contemporary (1970- present), Discovery & Personal Reactions, Intimacy & Family Life, Linked Descendants, Racism, Slaveholders, Slaveholding (1780 -1865)
Storytellers