Thu 31 Jan, 2008
Tags: Bristol, Media coverage, Rhode Island
While we were in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, my cousin Tom DeWolf appeared on C-SPAN 2’s Book TV. The program, which ran an hour and 15 minutes, can currently be viewed online here.
The program, which aired on Jan. 19 and 20, was a recording of Tom’s book tour appearance at Linden Place in Bristol, R.I. on Jan. 14.
Linden Place is the D’Wolf mansion in Bristol which is featured prominently in Tom’s Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History, and the invitation for Tom to hold one of the earliest stops on his book tour at the mansion marks a notable turn-around for the board.
Having been to several of Tom’s book events, starting with his launch event in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 11, I can honestly say that this was one of his best appearances. I can’t say whether it was because he had returned to Linden Place, where our journey began, or because of the unexpectedly warm welcome which he received there from the institution and from the people of Bristol.
Regardless of the reason, Tom was passionate and compelling in reading excerpts from his book, and in responding to the diverse and challenging questions he was asked by the audience.
Here is a passage Tom read from Inheriting the Trade, from an encounter with Dr. Ron David, an instructor at Harvard. Tom is writing, and Dr. David is speaking:
“As long as I keep you locked into a conversation about racism,” he said, “I can avoid dealing with my own stuff like sexism and homophobia.”
… this was the first time I’d ever heard a black man state so clearly that he shares responsibility with me in the whole racism and privilege discussion.
“When I see what you and I have in common instead of what keeps us apart, then we can move forward in a new way,” he said. …
He said that if he focuses on him being black and me being white, he focuses on that which separates us. “When I use the fact that we are both men and use our commonality to help us understand each other better, things will improve. … Black folks need to take ownership of their part in this. We all have our parts to play.”
Finally, I think it’s worth noting that Tom has never looked more like a Harvard professor than he did on C-SPAN.