Sunday, April 06, 2008

Meeting David Wilson: Slave Owning Family Meets Enslaved Counterpart

Though they've never met... they share the same name. Their ancestors knew each other. They lived on the same property... One was a slave... the other, the slave owner.

Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the MLK's death, MSNBC will present "Meeting David Wilson". The documentary premieres April 11th.

One David Wilson is an African-American who grew up in the tough streets of Newark, New Jersey and now works as a television news producer in New York City. The other, a 62-year-old white man, living in rural North Carolina, runs a chain of BBQ restaurants, not too far from where his ancestors farmed tobacco.

The two men will meet face-to-face in the strangest of "family reunions". I think this idea is very creative. I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out. Though the previews are making it seem as if there might be some drama between the two men and their storied pasts, I for one don't think there will be much.

There will definitely be some story swapping and some interesting dialogue, but I'm not expecting fireworks. I'm hoping they reveal enough background on the families to show how they've developed to where they are today. I'm curious to see the different paths of two families. One, living off the riches from tobacco. The other, making their way north, eventually to New Jersey, to build on what little foundation they had in the antebellum South.

NBC News president Steve Capus believes that the documentary will "open the dialogue, encourage better understanding of the issues, and, hopefully, shine new light on the current state of race relations in our country today."

The video below, from the David Wilson MySpace page, is a pretty good indication of what Capus is referencing above. There needs to be a dialogue. There needs to be communication. We, both black and white, still have our prejudices against the other. We both have our issues with the current race situation, and I don't think we truly realize what the other is experiencing. I'm one to believe that we are still in the "reconstruction" from the effects of the Civil War, and all that was involved with it.

Sure, there are opportunities for all races at all socio-economic status levels, but the opportunities are tougher to come by for some.

Go to MSNBC for the full story.

Official David Wilson Web site:

Attention Teachers: I'm a bit disappointed that does not have lesson plans readily available to use with this documentary. I'm surprised because we all know, many of you out there will be recoding this and showing it in class the next day. The documentary enough, is probably enough to just have a class discussion, wrapped around the question posed by Davide Wilsson himself... "What's wrong with black people? And why we had to ask."

But if you do use this in class, please share your ideas, and post them here so that we can continue this dialogue.

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Nate Levin said...

Good post. I particularly liked the reference to the "different experience of the other". Were you influenced by Sen. Obama's recent speech on race?

Anonymous said...

There is an underlying assumption that if the roles were reversed, those in the former minority would treat others differently. We all know, historically speaking, this is sheer fallacy.

The fact that Mr. Wilson greeted the other with the statement "Your ancestors owned my ancestors" speaks volumes about his own view of the world.

Now is the time to finally shed your narrow views of others and take a look at yourself before you can judge others by circumstances in which they have absolutely zero control.

Anne said...

I am very interested in this evenings presentation. I am fascinated by the was the dialog around race relations in the U.S. is developing.

I hope you will consider entering into a discussion about this topic on my blog after the event. I just started blogging and have opened with this rather challenging discussion!

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