Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade

by Thomas Norman DeWolf

Paperback, 2013



Call number




Beacon Press (2013), 232 pages


Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML:Two peopleâ??a black woman and a white manâ??confront the legacy of slavery and racism head-on   â??We embarked on this journey because we believe America must overcome the racial barriers that divide us, the barriers that drive us to strike out at one another out of ignorance and fear. To do nothing is unacceptable.â?ť   Sharon Leslie Morgan, a black woman from Chicagoâ??s South Side avoids white people; they scare her. Despite her trepidation, Morgan, a descendent of slaves on both sides of her family, began a journey toward racial reconciliation with Thomas Norman DeWolf, a white man from rural Oregon who descends from the largest slave-trading dynasty in US history. Over a three-year period, the pair traveled thousands of miles, both overseas and through twenty-seven states, visiting ancestral towns, courthouses, cemeteries, plantations, antebellum mansions, and historic sites. They spent time with one anotherâ??s families and friends and engaged in deep conversations about how the lingering trauma of slavery shaped their lives. Gather at the Table is the chronicle of DeWolf and Morganâ??s journey. Arduous and at times uncomfortable, it lays bare the unhealed wounds of slavery. As DeWolf and Morgan demonstrate, before we can overcome racism we must first acknowledge and understand the damage inherited from the pastâ??which invariably involves confronting painful truths. The result is a revelatory testament to the possibilities that open up when people commit to truth, justice, and reconciliation. DeWolf and Morgan offer readers an inspiring vision and a powerful model for healing indi… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member sallylou61
This is a very important book concerning racial understanding. Thomas DeWolf, a descendant of slave traders, and Sharon Morgan, a descendant of slaves, spent over three years (June 2008 to October 2011) traveling more than 100,000 miles together in an effort to better understand the legacy of
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slavery and racism and to enable each other to heal. They traveled to each others’ homes and met each others’ families, and then to various places primarily in the United States which played vital roles in slavery and the slave trade. They visited museums, graveyards, monuments and other historical sites and did genealogical research in courthouses.

In this book about their journey, Tom and Sharon share background experiences and tell their reactions to different experiences as alternating stories, labeled Tom’s story and Sharon’s story. They are honest in their discussions. I had heard Tom and Sharon dynamically discussing their journey and book at a session at the 2013 Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville. When reading the book, I could hear Sharon talking.

The stories told by Tom and Sharon are very effective. Their discussion of specific programs to achieve peacebuilding and human understanding such as STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness & Resilience) and Coming to the Table (CTTT) I did not find very helpful.
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LibraryThing member dreplogle
This book was a GoodReads Giveaway book, and it was a remarkable read.

Winner of the 2013 Phillis Wheatley Book Award.

First off, it held an absolutely riveting concept: that of a black woman and a white man who take a journey together of tracing their roots, working together to try and reconcile
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their perspectives of the effect of slavery in America, and the racism that still exists so strongly though more hidden. They both point out how in so many ways, the trauma of slavery still strongly impacts how we live and think today, as the harm has been passed down through generations.

"We embarked on this journey because we believe American must overcome the racial barriers that divide us, the barriers that drives us to strike out at one another out of ignorance and fear. To do nothing is unacceptable to us. The legacy of slavery remains a horrendous and unhealed wound, a disease that must be diagnosed, treated and cured."

This is an incredibly easy book to read and understand points of view. Tom and Sharon take turns writing sections of the journey, agreeing to not gloss over any instances of discord they encounter or create. It's an incredibly personal journey for each of them, and their ability to share their knowledge and ignorance of each other's culture, makes the read incredibly personal for me.
Not only should this type of learning and conversation be widely spread among the populace, but it should also be a standard conversation in all types of education.
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Physical description

232 p.


0807014443 / 9780807014448
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