Traces of the Trade

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Photo by Tom DeWolf

  • Photo by Tom DeWolf

It was only as an adult that Katrina Browne finally faced the source of her old New England family's wealth: they were the biggest slave traders in American history

Browne's ancestor Senator James DeWolf built an empire that fueled the economy of Bristol, Rhode Island, trading Cuban rum and sugar for slaves in Ghana whom he sold at slave markets in Havana and Charleston, South Carolina. From 1769 to 1820, the DeWolfs brought 10,000 African slaves to the Americas, ancestors to an estimated 500,000 living African Americans and Caribbeans.

In her 2008 documentary Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep North, Browne and nine of her cousins retrace their forebears' crimes to Cuba and Ghana and struggle with questions of reparations and the source of their own privilege.

DeWolf descendent Dain Perry and his wife Constance will hold discussions at four free screenings in Chicago and the west suburbs in the next week:

Thursday, 11/11 at 5 p.m. at John Marshall Law School, 315 S. Plymouth Court
Monday, 11/15 at 6 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 218 E. Benton St., Aurora
Tuesday, 11/16 at 6 p.m. at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 1125 Franklin St., Downers Grove
Wednesday, 11/17 at 6 p.m. at Lutheran School of Theology, 1100 E. 55th St.

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