The controversy over the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his African American slave Sally Hemings has raged for generations. Shannon Lanier, a 20-year-old descendant of Jefferson and Hemings, was inspired to delve deeper into the debate after attending the Monticello Association's yearly meeting in 1999. On the heels of the discovery through DNA evidence of a link between Jefferson and Hemings, excitement was running high at Jefferson's famous homestead. Lanier, who is black, encountered Jeffersons who embraced him, and those who wouldn't even shake his hand. He met Hemingses who looked as white as Jeffersons, Jeffersons who refused to acknowledge the scientific evidence, and Hemingses who were angry at having to prove their lineage. In this climate of stirred-up emotions and racial tensions, Lanier, along with photographer Jane Feldman, decided to write this book in hopes of unraveling some of the mystery, and giving members of one of America's largest, most well-known families a chance to speak. The result is a fascinating look at race relations, history--both oral and written, and family ties. The authors interview dozens of individuals who claim--or disclaim--shared ancestry. Many of those interviewed believe that, DNA testing or not, the connection between these families is a powerful symbol of America; to acknowledge the link would be a major step toward racial harmony. Eager, friendly, and astute, Lanier brings out the heartfelt thoughts and emotions of his extended family, while Feldman's photos capture the expressions of hope and joy on their faces. (Ages 11 and older) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"My name is Shannon Lanier. I am a twenty-year-old descendant of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings," begins this thought-provoking, handsome volume designed to resemble a family photo album. Earnest and energetic, Lanier, Jefferson's fifth great-grandson through Sally Hemings's son Madison, brings both these qualities to his anecdotal narrative as he introduces descendents through both family lines and affectingly conveys the tension that surrounded some of his encounters. Describing the first Jefferson family reunion to which the Hemings relatives were invited, at Monticello in 1999, Lanier writes: "There were Jeffersons there who threw their arms around me, and one woman who looked at my outstretched hand and actually shuddered." Those responses are reflected in the profiles here, too, from Jane Floyd's (a descendant of Sally Hemings's and Jefferson's eldest son) articulate discussion of black history including the forming of the NAACP, to Jane Randolph Schluter's flat refusal to believe that Jefferson fathered Hemings's children ("In my family, it was always referred to as a rumor propagated by the Hemings family"). Not surprisingly, some of the subjects are more eloquent and have more compelling stories to recount than others (and some detail their family trees to such a degree that youngsters may get lost in the branches). But this makes a strong teaching tool and springboard for discussion on subjects as varied as understanding one's own genealogy and the devastating results of racial prejudice. Archival photographs supplement Feldman's crisp and candid black-and-white shots, which capture the essence of each subject. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I am still reading it but it a great story and has exceeded my expectationsPublished 7 months ago by Thomas Winston
This gave a picture of all Jefferson's children from his wife Martha to his relationship with Sally Hemmings his black slave. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Bj
Excellent photos and stories of the Jefferson and Hemmings clan. Would recommend to anyone with an interest in their stories.Published 14 months ago by Char