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Filmmaker Documents her Family’s Role in the Slave Trade

The hidden legacy of Katrina Browne’s wealthy, influential, politically-connected Rhode Island DeWolf ancestors is that they were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. This knowledge exploded into Browne’s life nine years ago when she discovered that from 1769 to 1820, the DeWolfs became wealthy by trafficking in human beings.

Ms. Browne’s feature length film, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, documents her remarkable personal journey as she and nine family members uncover the hidden enterprise of slave trading in the North and their family’s role in it.

In the film, the Browne’s retrace the Triangle Trade route: Bristol to a slave fort in Ghana, to ruins of a family owned sugar plantation in Cuba, and back to Bristol. At each step on the way, they attempt to confront the exploitative racism, bigotry, and complicity of their forebears. They grapple with this history, expressing deep anguish as they uncover the enormity of the trade’s evils.

The issue of American slavery has long been a challenging topic to explore and discuss. Many believe that in order to move closer to the goal of achieving racial equity in America, greater understanding and perspective is needed, which can help promote healing and reconciliation.

Area residents can view this documentary followed by a discussion with the filmmaker. The screening which is free and open to the public is Monday, January 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Seating is limited. To reserve your place, call 269-969-2689.

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