|Online Screening & Discussion of the Award-winning New England Documentary: Traces of the Trade
A Voyage of Realization and Reconciliation
At 5:30pm on both Tuesday, Sept 15 and Friday, Sept 18, evenings the Jackson Public Library and Jackson Community Church co-sponsor the timely online screening of Traces of the Trade: A Story From The Deep North, followed by a discussion facilitated by co-hosts Dain Perry and his wife Constance Perry. Facilitator Dain Perry is one of nine cousins featured in this documentary that unearths a hidden legacy of slavery in America. Traces of the Trade: A Story From The Deep North, first shown at the Sundance Film Festival, follows the journey by filmmaker Katrina Browne and nine of her cousins — including Dain Perry — into the dark past of the slave trade, which enriched their white New England family. Allow three hours to watch the film and share in the conversation.
Registration is required for this online event; admission is free. Content is appropriate for family viewing. Register for free via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/traces-of-the-trade-registration-120275524331. More info on the documentary is available via. www.tracesofthetrade.org. If public interest continues, the library and church will consider adding additional sessions later in the autumn, if the facilitators are available.
Dain and Constance Perry join us to screen the film and facilitate a conversation on race, reconciliation and healing. Traces of the Trade is both a geographical and psychological retracing of the industry of the largest slave traders in American history, the DeWolf family of Bristol, Rhode Island, and an exploration into racism in America, a legacy of slavery that continues to negatively impact the country even today.
For generations the family’s past has been hidden from view, but a group of descendants decided to retrace the Triangle Trade, from Bristol, Rhode Island, to Ghana, where they visited centuries old slave forts and dungeons and talked with African-Americans on their own homecoming pilgrimage, to the ruins of a family-owned sugar cane plantation in Cuba. Each encounter on their journey leaves family members shaken with new insights. Along the way many myths are debunked and new questions pondered. A primary debunked myth is that the North was the center of the abolition movement and had little to do with slavery. The fact is that the North was the center of the US slave trade, and the ownership of slaves in the north was not only common., but it lasted for over two hundred years.
The film was shown on the PBS series Point of View (POV) in 2008, won the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film in 2009, and in July 2009 was nominated for an Emmy Award for historical research. It was greeted with excellent reviews. Variety called it “a courageous scab-ripper of a tale.” The Black Notes blog of the Providence Black Repertory Company praised the “complicated moral circumstances” and concluded, “it is a must-see.” Sundance’s Geoffrey Gilmore said the film “makes a potent statement about privilege and responsibility.” In a review Kirk Honeywell, of the Hollywood Reporter, said, the “clear-headed film represents an intense and searing call for national dialogue.”
Dain and his wife Constance are experienced facilitators who will help audience members discuss the lessons of the film. They have conducted over 500 screenings, facilitated conversations in over 200 cities and towns across the country, and overseas in Ghana and Australia. One family member said the most surprising question was whether Constance Perry, who is a descendant of enslaved people, knew about Dain’s family history before she married him. The answer: yes. Now she and her husband travel across the country as a team to screen the film and encourage group discussion of the legacy of slavery.
Discussion participants report, “By creating an atmosphere of safety and openness, the Perry’s cut through the fears (of judgment, of giving offense, of being misunderstood) that often inhibit discussions of race.” Another said, “Dain and Constance brought the discourse to a gut level, while at the same time affirming everyone’s reactions as perfectly and equally valid.”