Sun 20 Jan, 2008
Tags: Arizona, Guilt, Jim Perry, Media coverage, Tucson
This morning brings another outstanding and detailed article on Traces of the Trade at the Sundance Film Festival, this time in the Arizona Daily Star.
This article features Jim Perry, a Tucson resident and direct descendant of James D’Wolf who appears in Traces of the Trade. He’s also my father, so I’m particularly pleased at how well this story turned out.
Interestingly, among the several graphics and sidebars which the Star runs with the story, the online edition features a reader poll. The poll question asks whether the descendants of slave owners bear any responsibility today. I think it’s worth noting that those of us in Traces aren’t necessarily suggesting that the descendants of slave traders and slave owners bear any particular responsibility for the past — merely the obligation which all members of our society have to address the legacy of the past and its impact today.
I’ll let my father speak to this last point, as he’s quoted in the article:
“Do I feel guilt about what, say, James DeWolf did? No,” Perry said. “What he did was horrible, unimaginably evil, but I don’t feel guilty about it.”
“What I do feel, and I think that was part of the decision I made about doing this journey, is an incredibly unusual opportunity because I have this family history, because I have James DeWolf’s name.”
There are already several dozen comments on the story this morning on the web site of the Arizona Daily Star. These reader reactions run the usual gamut from understanding to anger or ignorance, with plenty of well-intended people in the middle who honestly aren’t clear just what the continuing impact of slavery and discrimination is on our society today.