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12 Years a Slave
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Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!
The National Gathering of Coming to the Table took place at Eastern Mennonite University during the Summer Peacebuilding Institute May 23-25. An article about the gathering, “Desire to address, heal, traumatic legacy of U.S. slavery sparks growth in Coming to the Table group“, shares the heart of what we hoped participants would experience.
My writing partner Sharon Morgan and I both served on the Planning and Facilitation Committee for the Gathering. We were pleased that we were filled to capacity and that participants were deeply engaged and satisfied with the experience.
Visiting our son’s family in Maryland, including our new, 1-month-old grandson, I sat down on Sunday morning with the Washington Post. In it I read Jonathan Capehart’s opinion piece, “That honest conversation about race everyone wants? We can’t handle it.” It’s one of the best commentaries I’ve read in a while about the difficulty navigating “race talk.” Here are a couple of teaser quotes to encourage you to read the article:
I work for the organization Coming to the Table. We provide leadership, resources and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery. My friend Sharon Morgan and I wrote about “living” the Coming to the Table model together over a 3-year period in our book Gather at the Table.
Coming to the Table has members and supporters throughout the United States. It isn’t always easy or pretty, but we are engaged in an honest conversation about race. Our mission is to inspire more people to do the same. Learn more here. Join our Facebook group here.
(photo from U-T San Diego, (c) Associated Press)
This post was originally published at Gather at the Table
November 19, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. PBS and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns launched a national effort to encourage people to video record themselves reciting President Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech, one of the most important statements on human equality in American history.
Sharon Morgan and I participated in the project, as have President Obama, Stephen Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, Rachel Maddow, Stephen Spielberg, and many others. You can watch our video at the Learn the Address website on PBS. Or you can watch it below from the Gather at the Table YouTube page.
We hope our participation will raise more awareness of the Coming to the Table approach to acknowledging and healing wounds from racism and the legacy of slavery that Sharon and I wrote about in Gather at the Table.
And may we all now re-dedicate ourselves “to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”
One week after Gather at the Table is released on October 9, another book will be published that I hope my readers will strongly consider picking up.
Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves will be published on October 16.
I first encountered author Henry Wiencek through my involvement with Coming to the Table. The co-founders of CTTT, Susan Hutchison and Will Hairston, were introduced to each other by Henry. Read the rest of this entry »
Check out the new Gather at the Table website!
My writing partner Sharon Morgan and I have been working for several weeks with James DeWolf Perry (Executive Director of The Tracing Center) to design and build the site. Thanks to James, our new website is now online and fully functional. There are a few elements still under development that we will add as they are completed, but most everything is there.
You can now read the Foreword to the book that was written by Joy Angela DeGruy, author of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.
We also went live today with a new Facebook Page dedicated to the book. We hope you’ll “like” it and help spread the word!
And if you haven’t visited the Gather at the Table YouTube page lately, check it out!
We’ll be quite busy over the summer, collaborating with the marketing and publicity staff at Beacon Press to make sure as many people as possible are aware of Gather at the Table by the time it is published on October 9!
I find myself back at Eastern Mennonite University this week for a class at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. I’m writing about my experiences this week at the Gather at the Table blog. For this reason, and for all the upcoming news regarding the publication of the new book, I want to remind my readers, both recent subscribers and those who’ve been here for a long time, that to receive the latest news over the summer and into fall, be sure and subscribe to that blog as well. There are two new posts there already this week that I hope you’ll find interesting and inspiring.
Onward toward Peace!
Ten years ago terror struck New York City. From the ashes of horror was born the STAR program at Eastern Mennonite University. Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience has trained more than 7,000 people from more than 60 countries including Afghanistan, Burundi, Cambodia, Fiji, Haiti, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Nepal, Palestine, Rwanda, Russia, Serbia, and Uganda.
The foundation for the Coming to the Table model of healing from the historic trauma inflicted by slavery and racism grew out of STAR.
My writing partner Sharon Morgan and I have both completed STAR training. It rests at the foundation of our healing journey that will result in our book Gather at the Table when it is published by Beacon Press next year.
To commemorate ten years of healing work, a commemorative e-book has been published. I enthusiastically encourage my friends and allies to read STAR: The Unfolding Story (2001 – 2011), pass it along, and if you don’t know much about STAR, to consider the training.
The world needs more peacebuilders who are trained in resilience in the face of trauma.
Thank you to my Coming to the Table friends Sharon Morgan and Edie Lee Harris for sharing this story.
In 1960, a 6-year old African American girl named Ruby Bridges was escorted by federal marshals into an elementary school in New Orleans after integration became the law of the land. In 1963 Norman Rockwell captured the image of that day in his painting “The Problem We All Live With.”
President Obama recently authorized the placement of Rockwell’s painting in a hallway outside the Oval Office. I strongly encourage you to read this article about the President’s action. It is a jarring and provocative work of art and speaks volumes about what a 6-year old girl, and so many others, faced in the recent past. Then watch this short YouTube video that shows Ruby Bridges discussing Rockwell’s painting with President Obama in the White House.
Thank you also to my friend Nina Hoffert for sharing another story with me; one that reminds us that discrimination due to race continues today. Read about Vance Gilbert’s experience on a recent United Airlines flight here.
The struggle continues.
I’ve spoken and written a lot about Coming to the Table over the past five years since I participated in the first weekend gathering of descendants of enslaved and enslaving people in January 2006.
Gather at the Table, the book Sharon Morgan and I are writing that will be published next year by Beacon Press, was inspired by our participation with this powerful and inspiring group of people.
The mission of Coming to the Table is to “provide leadership, resources, and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery.”
We’ve maintained a “closed” Facebook group for the past couple years. We’ve now opened it up so that anyone can view the group and join. For those with an interest in Inheriting the Trade and Traces of the Trade I hope you’ll check out our page and consider participating with us. The resources and conversations that are shared there will prove valuable to anyone interested in healing the traumatic wounds that continue to harm our nation, our communities, and each of us individually.
I was thrilled to see the June 27, 2011 issue of People Magazine on the newstand at the airport as I was flying home last week. This issue features an article titled “Healing Slavery’s Wounds” beginning on page 66. It focuses on four stories of black and white people who are linked by the history of slavery and racism and have reconnected in the quest for healing. I encourage you to pick up a copy!
Unfortunately, the article is not available online so I cannot provide a link. I have scanned the article and you can read it here: People (27 June 2011)
Note: I hope that I am not breaking any copyright laws by providing this pdf. I purchased the magazine. I encourage you to do the same. I’ve given full credit to People for publishing this story and am grateful that they have highlighted this growing movement of people wanting to heal the wounds of racism that are rooted in the history of slavery in the United States.