When Katrina Browne discovered that her New England ancestors were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history, she embarked on a journey with nine fellow descendants to retrace the Triangle Trade, from Rhode Island to Ghana to Cuba and back. They uncover the vast extent of Northern complicity in slavery while also stumbling through the minefield of contemporary race relations. Traces of the Trade, airing on Tuesday, June 24th (check your local listings), is Katrina’s spellbinding account of that journey.
In our interview with Katrina for the Traces of the Trade POV website, we asked her why she decided to embark on this journey. Katrina says:
Everywhere I go, I ask people to raise their hand if they knew about the role of the North in slavery, and people don’t raise their hands. More black Americans know about it than white Americans, but overall, we have such a mythology in this country that the South was solely responsible for slavery. It’s important to set the record straight, and then from there we can see how that changes the conversation about black-white relations today. Slavery is not just a southern sin, it’s a national one, and it’s the foundation of the American economy. Recognizing that means that the legacy of slavery becomes the responsibilities of more Americans than I personally assumed at the outset. So it was a combination of a deeply personal connection and realizing it’s a collective issue that made me go on this journey.
Read more from Katrina’s interview or listen to our extended podcast interview.
Do you have a question for Katrina about her journey, her family and her film? You can submit it in the comment field below. She’ll choose a selection of questions to respond to, so check back here after the film airs to see what she has to say.