URBANA — The University of Illinois Department of African American Studies will present this evening a provocative documentary that explores the slave trade in the world and in U.S. history.
The filmmaker, Katrina Browne, will be present with "Traces of the Trade: Stories from the Deep North" (2008). The descendant of the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history also will discuss the project with students, faculty, staff and community members.
The free event will be at 7 p.m. tonight (Feb. 6) in Room 1092 of Lincoln Hall on the UI campus.
Ronald W. Bailey, the new head of the Department of African American Studies, invited Browne.
He said in a news release that the film raises important questions about U.S. history and is appropriate as a part of Black History Month and the university's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Bailey was a consultant on the documentary project and helped the filmmaker explore what he has labeled "the slave(ry) trade" — the wide array of economic activities that were spurred by the slave trade or trade in African bodies.
These included manufacturing, rum distillation, shipbuilding, banking and finance, and other areas.
In the documentary, Browne and 10 descendants of the Rhode Island DeWolfe family, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history, visit slave castles on the west coast of Africa, a sugar mill owned by the family in Cuba and a rum manufacturing plant in Rhode Island. The rum produced was then shipped to West Africa for more slaves.
The documentary has been screened throughout the United States and abroad and has won several awards, among them the Spirit of Freedom Documentary Award from the Bahamas International Film Festival in 2009.
It was nominated for the news and documentary Emmy Award, also in 2009.
The screening here is supported by the Emancipation Proclamation Sesquicentennial Committee and the Department of African American Studies.
For additional activities, visit http://inclusiveillinois.illinois.edu/MLK/emanproc.html.