New evidence shows the Bush presidents are descended from a notorious slave trader

Posted June 20th, 2013 by
Category: History Tags: , , , , ,

Bunce Island, a slave fort along the coast of Sierra LeoneRecently uncovered historical evidence shows that the family of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush has something in common with the DeWolf family of Traces of the Trade: both are descended from notorious slave traders.

In the case of the Bush presidents, they are directly descended from Thomas Walker, a notorious English slave trader who transported enslaved Africans between the west coast of Africa and the Americas in the late 18th century.

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A slave trading family on NBC’s “The Office”

Posted October 8th, 2012 by
Category: Popular Culture Tags: , , ,

DeWolf family treeWhen I sat down this weekend to watch last Thursday’s episode of “The Office,” I was quite surprised to discover that the plot largely revolved around the revelation that Andy Bernard, like me, is descended from slave traders.

As you might imagine, as someone who has wrestled with this family legacy, and who cares a great deal about seeing the public to terms with the legacy of slavery, I had mixed feelings watching this subject being addressed in a half-hour comedy show.

What did “The Office” get right?

What do I think the show got right about Andy’s suspicion that he was descended from slave owners, and his eventual discovery that his family were slave traders? Mostly the incredible awkwardness and uncertainty, for Andy, his family, and for everyone else witnessing the process of uncovering the truth about complicity in slavery.

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Racial myth and miscegenation on “The Simpsons”

Posted March 18th, 2010 by
Category: Popular Culture Tags: , , , ,

James DeWolf Perry is a regular guest contributor. He appears in the film Traces of the Trade and is the Tracing Center’s director of research. This entry originally appeared on James’ own blog, The Living Consequences, on February 21, and the opinions expressed are his own.

On tonight’s episode of “The Simpsons,” Lisa Simpson explores her family’s historical connection to slavery and presents the results at school for Black History Month.

This was fascinating for me to watch, as my own family’s powerful connection to slavery has taken up much of my time and energy over the last decade. Being a direct descendant of the leading slave trader in U.S. history, I think I can also relate to Lisa’s worry that her family tree sometimes seems dominated by scoundrels.

Disappointingly, however, this episode perpetuates some of the most common stereotypes that dominate public perceptions about the connections of American families to the nation’s history of slavery. For, immediately after learning that the Simpson family had a connection to slavery, we hear that this story involves Simpson ancestors living in the South, and that they were, in fact, anti-slavery and risked everything they had to take part in the Underground Railroad.

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