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Documentary Filmmaker Discusses her Emmy-Nominated Film “Traces of the Trade”

October 05, 2016

Filmmaker Katrina Browne, creator of the Emmy-nominated documentary Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, screened a portion of the film for members of the Lasell community and discussed the experience of tracing her family's involvement in the slavery trade in Rhode Island between 1769 to 1820.

Browne, who made the film after discovering her family's prominent role in the slave trade in New England, follows her family's journey to uncover the involvement of Northerners, and specifically her family, in the selling and exploitation of African slaves.

She presented the film in Yamawaki Auditorium October 4.

In the film, she and members of her family travel from Rhode Island to Ghana to Cuba, where slaves worked on family-owned plantations producing the ingredients for rum production. Over the generations, the family transported more than 10,000 enslaved Africans across the Middle Passage and amassed an enormous fortune. By the end of his life, one prominent family member, James DeWolf, had been a U.S. Senator and was reportedly the second richest man in the United States.

Browne discussed her family's ideas for reparations and updated the group gathered in Yamawaki Auditorium about new initiatives to create a movement for national reparations for the descendants of African slaves.

She also spoke to a sociology class earlier in the day.

The film was shown widely on PBS channels and debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.