The Richmond Register

April 14, 2013

‘Entangled Lives’ to be presented Saturday at Berea College

An exploration of two families’ interracial past


Special to the Register

BEREA — The African-American Genealogy Group of Kentucky and the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education will present “Entangled Lives: A Conversation between Descendants of ‘Master’ and ‘Enslaved’” at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Carter G. Woodson Center in the Berea College Alumni Building.

“Entangled Lives: A Conversation between Descendants of ‘Master’ and ‘Enslaved’” is a public history project created by Pam Smith and Ann Neel and presented many times nationwide.

Smith, a black communications consultant from Chicago, and Neel, a white sociology and women’s studies professor from Tacoma, Wash., became friends and colleagues through their mutual passion for family history.

They came face to face with the realities of slavery when on a research trip Smith discovered that one of her enslaved ancestors had actually been owned by one of Neel’s. In trying to fit their respective families into the U.S. historical picture, old wounds of “race” threatened to destroy their friendship. 

“Entangled Lives” explains how they pieced together their ancestors’ connected and entangled histories and overcame the emotional baggage encountered as they explored our country’s tragic interracial history.

Neel and Smith focus on the implications and legacies of slavery and Jim Crow for families, black and white, living in a world that defined people as property and maintained the subordination of people of color through force, law and a culture of white supremacy.

They encourage their audiences to begin the process of researching their own family histories and engage in a community dialogue on race.

Neel and Smith have both discovered Kentucky roots. Neel’s family stems from the Barnes family of Madison County.

“Entangled Lives” is one of a series of presentations by the African-American Genealogy Group of Kentucky, which meets monthly on third Saturdays.

This event, sponsored by the Berea College Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education, is free to the public.

For details, contact Sharyn Mitchell, 985-3892, or 502-682-5082, or at sharyn_mitchell@ berea.edu.