Letter from Katrina Browne

Posted December 16th, 2010 by
Category: Outreach

Dear friends,

I am so pleased to be sending the first newsletter from our new non-profit: The Tracing Center on Histories and Legacies of Slavery.  Here you can read great stories about what we’ve been up to this year with many different collaborators … all over the U.S. and overseas.  We wholeheartedly invite you to get further involved with our efforts, through programming and/or financial support.

We formed the Tracing Center in 2010 as an organic extension of two years of work screening Traces of the Trade, having heard, again and again, about the ongoing need for programming about slavery and race that works at a more systemic level, such as in the fields of education and public history.  We received encouraging feedback in a comprehensive on-line survey about our 2009 programming, showing high demand for broader and deeper programming.  You can read our mission statement here.

We are very encouraged by all that’s happened this year or is currently percolating in our various program areas, from work with the National Park Service at the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the President’s House, to work with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Urban Projects, to workshops on teaching slavery in a way that prepares students for healthy race relations, to rebroadcasts connected to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

If the film has impacted you, or you have witnessed the power of the education and dialogue that we help spark, please become further involved in our efforts.  You can support us by suggesting schools, universities, historic sites, religious congregations or denominations, workplaces and other venues that would be well-served by using the film for dialogue, education or training.  You can propose programming that you would like to see us do, or that you would like to do with us. To contact us, please click here.

We would also be very grateful for year-end financial support as we attempt to meet the growing demand for our programming while building a charitable organization from the ground up in a challenging climate. Please consider being one of the founding donors to our new Center.  Gifts are tax deductible.

Some of you have found our work compelling because you can trace your heritage to enslaved people; for others it is because you trace your heritage to enslavers. Others of you might not have, or know if you have, the most obvious links to this history, but you know that white privilege has put the wind at your back and set you up for success, or has put obstacles in your path.  Others of you have different lines that intertwine, giving you a joyous and/or demanding mix of windows into the past and present.

We imagine that for some of you, making a financial contribution to our work, large or small, would be a great extension of your passion for this unwinding, loosening of knots, this work of repair.  Gifts of any size would be gratefully appreciated!  If you can consider a significant donation, please contact us, as we would be happy to provide any additional information you might need.

We look forward to working with all of you where our good forces wish to meet!


Katrina Browne

Executive Director, The Tracing Center on Histories and Legacies of Slavery

12 Responses to “Letter from Katrina Browne”

  1. Phyllis Robinson Says:

    Hello Dear Katrina,

    You have come so far and I weep with joy at how you have brought this message of healing and education so far and wide. Blessings to you for all that you do.


  2. cynthia winton-henry Says:

    Let me be one of the first to herald your work as truly inspired, healing, and world changing. By being who you are to the fullest, the work of Traces of the Trade is repairing the body politic. I will never forget those moments in the bay area when you first learned of your legacy and began to transform it into a healing destiny through art and personal storytelling. Now you are inspiring the great work of the many of us who are bound and freed from slavery. I am proud that InterPlay has played a small part in supporting this work.

  3. James David Moran Says:

    I am delighted to see this project which began with your reciving a Creative and Performing Artist and Writers fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society grow into this amazing and vital program. It is very gratifying to see our initial support become the seed for an ever-growing endaevor. Congratulations!

  4. Angie Brauneller Says:

    Hello Katrina!

    It is truly astounding to see where this whole project has taken you and your team! I am so happy for you.

    I was just thinking of our Sundance experience the other day and then saw this link today.

    Wishing for you, your family and the new center many blessings and happy holidays!

    Angie Brauneller

  5. Janet Henley Katzenb Says:

    I am so excited by the success you have achieved. I first saw your cousin, Tom on C-SPAN when his book cme out. I knew that I had to see and be able to use the video, which I have since done with two church related group. In addition, our school has purchase a copy, which I just handed to our head for review on Monday. I saw you in St. Louis a couple of years ago when you were at our history museum, and have been a great admirer of your courage and your work.

    May it continue to expand, and may you b e richly blessed.

  6. peter bascom Says:

    Hello Katrina! I am so grateful for you and your endeavors. I am an African American student living in Bristol. I attend IYRS Marine Systems School. I am originally from a civil rights family in Baltimore./ Bristol still is one of the most racist alienating places I've ever been. God help this foresaken town. I have dreams of the KKK pulling me from my apartment most every night. It's like living in the twilight zone here! Every time I travel the Hope Bridge, I hear my ances

  7. Vaunie Graulty Says:

    Katrina, The film itself was the culmination of so much hard work and reflection on your part. You could have stopped there, but your dedication continues to energize you and many others as you spread this message and provide opportunities for in depth and productive discussion. Thank you.

  8. Mary Leopold Says:

    Dear Katrina,

    Your creativity, motivation, and dedication have always inspired and awed me. You bring so much awareness and insight into all of our lives.

  9. Jean Lee Says:

    Dear Katrina,

    I have been researching my geneology and discovered that I am also related to the Dewolf family. My 8th Great Uncle Thomas Lee was married to Mary Dewolf. I was so upset to learn the history…I was happy to discover that I have beautiful extended family like you and Tom fighting and standing up for everything That the Dewolfs believed in. amazing amazing people. I have proof of my relation from my grandparents.

  10. John Newcomer Says:

    Hi Katrina,

    Through recent research of my genealogy, I have found that I am also a descendant of the DeWolf family, with James DeWolf as my 4G-grandfather through his daughter Nancy Bradford DeWolf. I have 6 generations of primary documents for proof (birth, marriage, and death certificates). I found myself haunted by the thoughts of being descended from some very successful businessmen whose commodity was enslaved human beings. I am also truly amazed and grateful for your efforts to right the wrongs of our ancestors in a way that's fair and dignified. What can I do to help?

  11. James DeWolf Perry Says:

    It's good to "meet" you, John. James D'Wolf is my 5th-great grandfather, through his other daughter, Marianne.

    It's a staggering family legacy, but mitigated a bit by the fact that it turns out that northern society was broadly complicit in slavery and the slave trade; what the D'Wolf family did is truly just the tip of a very large iceberg.

    I've sent you an e-mail to connect further, but we have a variety of public programs through the Tracing Center. For more information, click on "About the Center" or "Programs and Screenings" at the top of this page. We'd certainly appreciate your help in any way that you'd care to be involved.

  12. Ed Cipolla Sr. Says:


    Words cannot express the deep emotion I felt when I saw your movie. Maybe I can try to express it in a brief prose poem.

    If It Be True

    If it be true

    as told to us

    so long ago,

    the truth shall set

    you free

    Then it must be true

    that all of us

    have never been,

    and are yet to be

    truly free

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