Rewriting History, One Family Photo at a Time

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

They say that history is written by the people in power. And for centuries in the Western world, that meant that stories by and about people descending from Africa were barely touched upon in the history books. The Digital Diaspora Family Reunion (DDFR) is trying to change that. A web-based multi-media project, the DDFR encourages people with African ancestry to submit family photos, along with stories, from their own attics and shoeboxes.

The goal is to assemble a more complete picture of African American life and diasporic life in particular, as well as American life in general. The DDFR is the brainchild of Thomas Allen Harris, a documentary filmmaker, who joins us to talk about the project.

Bernice Alexander Bennett is a participant in the project. Through the DDFR, she's shared her family photos and story on our blog and with a global online community. She joins us from Silver Spring, Maryland.

Add your photos here.

Thomas Allen-Harris tells us more about the project, and we hear one listener talk about the photo he sent us.



Copyright: Bernice Alexander Bennett
Mattie Kemp Alexander
This is a picture of my grandmother Mattie Kemp Alexander taken in 1912 in Greenwood County, South Carolina.  I never knew Mattie because she passed away in 1932, yet my father had several pictures of his mother to share with the family.  I ventured on a journey in 2004 to find my South Carolina Kin and found Mattie's brothers children. In addition, I was successful in going all of the way back to slavery and met the slave owners descendant of my great great grandfather Andrew Kemp. - Bernice Alexander Bennett
Copyright: Bernice Alexander Bennett
Philip Alexander and Parents
This picture was taken around 1920 and is the only picture my father (a small boy) had with his mother and father.  This is Mattie Kemp, the same woman in the 1912 portrait. -Bernice Alexander Bennett
Copyright: Bernice Alexander Bennett
Peter Moses Clark
This is a picture of my maternal ggreat-father who was born in Louisiana in 1855;  this picture was taken around 1905.  My ggreat grandfather acquired 159.33 acres of land under the Homestead Act of 1862 in Livingston Parish, La. - Bernice Alexander Bennett
Copyright: Bernice Alexander Bennett
Newly Found Family

This is a picture of my newly found cousins and the slave owner descendant.  Janice Woods in the colorful shirt is my twin sister; next to Janice is Dr. Constance McNeil - the slave owner's descendant; next to Connie is Joyce Robinson and Sheryl Bailey - my newly discovered cousins;  I am next in line in the white shirt and standing next to me is John Ebo (deceased) another newly discovered cousin.  This picture was taken at the Tompkins Library - the home of the Old Edgefield Historical and Genealogical Society, and Connie is the President of the South Carolina Genealogical and Historical Society. - Bernice Alexander Bennett

Dennis Burroughs
Dennis Burroughs and his mother and brother, circa 1958

This my beautiful mother,Geneva Burroughs, my brother Marvin Burroughs, and myself circa 1958. The interesting thing about this image is that it shows the incredible range of skin colors running throughout Black families in the Diaspora.


Thomas Allen-Harris and Bernice Alexander Bennett

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [2]

Cynthia from Edgefield SC

I hesitated to buy the book, SLAVE RESEARCH IN EDGEFIELD SC because there have been so many that I have in my book case that have maybe a line or to about the information I seek. But for me, $56 was worth it. I thought my gggrandma Adelaide Teague and one of her daughters my ggrandma Lucinda VANCE must have gotten those surnames from their LAST SLAVEHOLDER. Not so! On page 79 there she was with 4 of her children born before the Civil war-waiting-to be sold by PL CALHOUN to Abr. JONES. Buy this Book. I also, would not have been able to find my ancestors without the help of this book. I went line by line page by page. Adelaide's youngest was Elbert Vance 2 years old at the time of this sale in 1863. I thought about doing this for Monroe Co. Ms where Lucinda Vance was found in 1900, but YOU HAVE TO BE THERE, in Mississippi to do this.

Apr. 10 2011 02:09 PM
Ed from Larchmont

It's very interesting to talk about the Great Migration of African American people. But sometime we should talk about the great genocide of the African American people: that 25+% of their children are killed in abortion in the US.

Mar. 02 2011 08:14 AM

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