“Jefferson’s Children” Authors to Speak April 5

The authors of Jefferson's Children: The Story of One American Family, Jane Feldman and Shannon LaNier, a descendant of President Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings, will speak at Mount Holyoke on April 5 at 7 pm in Gamble Auditorium.

In their presentation Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family, the Journey Continues, LaNier and Feldman will discuss race, family, and their complex, shared legacy as Americans. The talk will be followed by a book signing and a chance to meet the authors.

Jefferson’s Children (Random House, 2000) introduces the story of Jefferson’s descendants through LaNier’s eyes. The book features photographs and personal meditations of Jefferson’s other living descendants and offers a look at how Americans define race and heritage.

The book’s popularity has surged over the past few years, said Feldman.

“I think that America is coming of age and trying to wrap her mind around our incredibly complex legacy,” she said.

LaNier, a ninth-generation descendant of Jefferson and Hemings, is a correspondent for Black Enterprise Business Report. Feldman, a photojournalist who has dedicated much of her career to human rights, has worked with Amnesty International and photographed many human rights leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama. Both LaNier and Feldman are members of Coming to the Table, a group founded by descendants of former slaves and slave masters that focuses on encouraging dialogue and conflict resolution.

The event is sponsored by the MHC Multicultural Community and College Life Committee, the Division of Student Affairs, the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts, the Department of History, and the Counseling Service.

 LaNier and Feldman were interviewed by Joe Donahue on radio WAMC's Rountable April 1.