Cathedral News, February 12, 2017
There is an important and interesting event that is happening at the Cathedral on Saturday, March 11. On that day a couple from Connecticut will be our guests to host a screening of the film, “Traces of the Trade.” A film documenting the involvement in the slave trade of the DeWolf family, a prosperous and influential family from Rhode Island, “Traces of the Trade” is a journey with many layers into a piece of this country’s past that is crucial to confront and understand.
When most of us think about slavery as it existed in the United States, our minds instantly go to the Deep South. We think of rice, indigo and cotton plantations and the economic imperatives that made slavery such an essential, and tragic, part of the life of the United States before the Civil War. Yet slavery was not confined to the southern states. In fact, it was the DeWolf family who were the largest traders in slaves, and that business brought them enormous wealth and power.
Dain and Constance Perry will be the hosts of the film’s screening at the Cathedral, and they will be travelling throughout the Diocese of the Rio Grande to host other screenings. Locations include Santa Fe, Taos, Farmington, Las Cruces and Marfa. Dain Perry is a direct descendant of the DeWolf family, and he travels extensively around the Episcopal Church, taking “Traces of the Trade” to parishes, diocesan conventions and other venues. Constance Perry is a national consultant, born in North Carolina and a descendant of slaves from West Africa. She is passionate about the ministry in which she and her husband are engaged through sharing the story of the DeWolf family and facilitating conversations around the topic of race relations in the United States today.
It is tempting to think that the issue of race is not as important today as it has been in years past. While we can point to concrete ways in which minorities in this country fare better than those in previous generations, it is clear that there is much work of reconciliation that still needs to be done. No one would want to return to the 19th Century, for example, when slavery as an institution was still legal. The early decades of the 20th Century, also, are not attractive, being times of active segregation in most areas of society. Nonetheless, racial and ethnic minorities still experience prejudice and discrimination based purely upon their basic identity. In recent months these divisions in our common life have become more evident, sadly. There is an urgent need for conversations to continue about the reality of the diversity of the world in which we live. To that end, Dain and Constance will be visiting our Diocese and the Cathedral.
The Cathedral showing of the film will be on Saturday, March 11, beginning at 2:00 p.m. in Kaseman Hall. The Cathedral Reconciliation Team will be the hosts for this screening, providing hospitality for the afternoon. Seating will be limited, so please plan on arriving early enough for a good seat. A free-will offering will be taken at the conclusion of the film to help defray expenses of the Perrys’ time in the Diocese.
I hope that you will make it a priority to put this event on your calendar. This is a tangible way in which we can contribute to the welfare of our community, by being engaged in the discussions surrounding the work of reconciliation.
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