Introduction

Jim Rumph (1810 - 1912)

Shared History tells the story of the relationship that developed between my family–the descendants of slave owners–and the descendants of enslaved African Americans.  The film explores the almost 300-year connection between these two groups at Woodlands, also known as the Simms place, a South Carolina ante-bellum plantation.  

 

This blog seeks to expand the conversation started in the film.  It asks the question: can we talk about the realities of slavery with each other by sharing personal stories about connections forged by slavery and its aftermath? 

 This includes all of us living in the United States because of the economic impact of slavery on the entire nation.

Shared History has an companion blog entitled Just Like Family, which is also designed to further the national conversation about race issues in this country.  Just Like Family is a repository of memories, stories, comments, theories, and conversations about the impact of African American women who raised white children from the white and black points of view.  

For detailed information about the film and the history of the families and to buy a DVD, visit  us at Shared History.   You can also see teasers for the film on YouTube and Vimeo, and, in the future, footage that was considered too controversial for the PBS documentary.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Felicia Furman, Producer/Director, Shared History and Blogger

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7 responses to “Introduction

  1. I was reading your announcement about the film and blog (72 yo white woman) and found myself mouthing “oh, yes, oh, yes” over and over. This is something I have wished for for years. Been reading “black history” since my 20’s when a black co worker was willing to tell me some of the things I needed to know. At that time, many African Americans wouldn’t want to “hurt my feelings” I guess and wouldn’t tell me how it really was right then. I was shocked, raised in a small midwestern town w/o other races. Now there are some, thank God!But I left partly for that reason. Anyway my adult son reads some of this material too, and he said, well Mom that is my history too and I have been deprived of it! My sentiments exactly. Let the conversation begin.

    • Thank you so much for your comments. I too had African American friends who helped guide me through black experience. I wondered if you had seen The Help. I have some comments about the film at http://www.justlikefamily.wordpress.com.

      Felicia

      • Felicia, I am Bill Reeves who used to work with you and Carol and Kate so many years ago at the National Register. Talked to Carol recently and would like to catch up with you also. Please reply or give me call. 850.933.9265. Looks like you are doing great things~

  2. As the Co-Producer of Shared History, I was very pleased when Felicia launched a blog to advance the documentary.The conversations will continue and the contents shared.

    Even before the making of the documentary as I watched the Super 8 clips Felicia recorded as she sought to visually collect the memories and relationships of the men and women who descended from Woodlands, the conversations, with all that they revealed, consciously and subconsciously, were compelling and would be the driving force for the film.

    Whether it was the one-on-one interviews or the back-and-forth exchanges between the two or more people assembled for the Super 8 recordings or the two-camera shoots capturing known and unknown facts, myths and memories, conversations were not only fascinating insights into the past and their repercussions in the present, these dialogues revealed what the documentary participants were thinking and feeling, had over many years thought, felt and experienced; much of it unfolding as the cameras rolled.

    The verbal actions and reactions were as close to the truth as any documentary ever gets. What the Woodland descendants knew and believed or didn’t know or didn’t want to believe, were ashamed or proud of, not only engaged them one to another but invites the viewers into the conversations to participate by thinking about what they are seeing, hearing, understanding and how it relates to them. Shared History compels that kind of interaction.

    When we are invited to show the documentary to audiences in the South, the North, in Europe, the conversations immediately follow and are nearly always generated by the audience. The lively participation and points of view sometimes last longer than the documentary itself, with members of the audiences still talking as they leave. There is invariably a liberating and tolerant atmosphere; thoughtful and respectful listening.

    It was always obvious to me that Shared History would grow in significance when viewers had more opportunities to talk about and consider their own feelings, thoughts and ideas generated by watching the documentary and sharing these with others.

    Through the dignity and the search for honesty, Shared History, revealing and now adding to the stories of race relations in America, will continue to enlighten through the conversations.

  3. One of the most fascinating things about “Shared History” as a work of art, as an activity, as a creative production undertaking, and as a “saga” in which I had the privilege of participating, is not only what is recorded on film…but of equal importance is what has not been said, and perhaps cannot be said, but is shown…in and through body language, by gesture and voice inflection, through interactions between individuals both on and off screen and through the rich activities of implicature and inference.

    This entire project is an extraordinary testament and documentation of the cultural institutions and relationships that developed in a specific Southern community in South Carolina and how that community extended itself through the disapora of families into various parts of our nation. It provides volumes of information by comment and example on the methodologies of race-based identifications, shows regional variations (through comparisons of the linguistic patterns and behaviors of participants from diverse parts of the United States), revealing how the activities of race-reification operate and transform individuals and society. Moreover, it allows a much needed space for the opening of a meaningful dialogue on the complex issues that form cultural, psychological, and spiritual extensions derived from our interior messaging on the nature of identity and self-narrative as well as the effects of our incorporation of the subjective conceptual projections of others onto our individual selves.

    This film, and its support documentation spanning more than a 10 year period, offers its public a truly important and compelling work…my congratulations to the production team for their artistry and expertise and especially my commendation to the courage of the conceptualist, Felicia Furman for attempting to engage us as an audience in a productive conversation pertaining to a potentially polemical topic, rife with truly ineffable and socially subversive aspects!

  4. I am a descendant of the Manigault, Kearse, Rumph and Laboard families. I reside in New York City and woke up in the middle of the night hearing the television call my last name ” Laboard”. i don’t know much about my paternal side of the family except my grandparents and some of my great Aunts and Uncles but have recently learned a lot from a cousin born in Bamberg. My maternal side has a very rich history in ‘Sandy Ground’ in 1828 was the first free black community in Staten Island, NY ( one of the five boroughs of New York City). This is such a very emotional part of my history, that I am equally as proud of knowing and seeing. The pictures, the stories all bring tears of happiness to my eyes. Despite what it may seem or the circumstances that were set before my ancestors. I know that they were a proud and loving people ( as told to me by my cousin).

    It is funny how the stars align and how your purpose comes in full circle. I have been a National Park Ranger for over 14 years, where I study and learn both the natural and cultural history of New York City. This prompted me to learn more about my maternal family since my grandmother was always talking about it and later own published her memories of Sandy Ground entitled ‘Sandy Ground Memories” by Lois A. H Mosley. In the midst of that , I woke up to the wonderful sound of my last name “Laboard’ being called out on PBS and finally writing my own non fiction children’s book about my ancestry in New York entitled ” The Summer Adventures of Landin Henry’ Sandy Ground by J. Laboard. I am writing a series of books about a young man that travels back in time to meet his ancestors. I most certainly see a children’s book in this story!

    Without a doubt I realize that my purpose is to keep my families stories alive . I will keep you posted!!!

    GOD BLESS

    Janise LaBoard

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