'Traces of the Trade' to debut on PBS in June

April 28, 2008

"Traces of the Trade" will have its national broadcast premiere on Public Broadcasting System's Point of View (POV) series on June 24. (Check local listings for time.) It was one of only three documentaries bought by POV at the Sundance Film Festival in January.


"Traces" is the feature documentary that tells the story of the DeWolf family, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history and also a prominent part of the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island. James DeWolf Perry was the 18th Presiding Bishop.

In the film, which commences POV's 21st season, Katrina Browne, a DeWolf descendant and producer and director of the documentary, narrated while cameras followed her and nine other family members. They retraced the route of the "Triangle Trade" in slaves, rum, sugar and other goods between Rhode Island, Ghana, Cuba and back to Rhode Island. Browne and the other members of the family addressed complex issues of atonement and reconciliation during the journey.

In this bicentennial year of the U.S. abolition of the slave trade, this film offers a unique and disturbing journey of discovery into the history and "living consequences" of one of the nation's most shameful episodes -- slavery.

"In 'Traces of the Trade,' we wanted to ask this question: What is our responsibility?" said Browne. "I'm less concerned with understanding the extreme inhumanity of my ancestors than with understanding the mundane, ordinary complicity of the majority of New Englanders who participated in a slave-based economy. That had more parallels to me and my family today: well-intentioned white folks who are still part of systems that do harm. It’s important to roll up our sleeves to deal with what we all inherited from our country’s history."

Further information is available here.

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