While visiting South Carolina as a child, Nkrumah Steward – a Black man with a Black family who was born and raised in Michigan – always wondered why a white man would greet him and his family with a hug. The man was Steward’s great grandfather, and the meeting sparked the 44-year-old’s interest in genealogy. That would lead him to visit Wavering Place plantation with his wife and two children last month. It was where he reconnected with a cousin whose family used to own his enslaved ancestors.
Steward joined Robert Adams, who inherited the plantation near Hopkins, South Carolina for dinner with their families June 30. The Canton, Michigan resident shared the experience on his Facebook page.
“The reason I was there tonight was because 181 years ago, in 1835, Joel Robert Adams and my 4th great grandmother, one of his slaves, Sarah Jones Adams had a daughter, Louisa,” Steward wrote. “Louisa had Octavia. Octavia had James. James had my grandfather JD. JD had my mother Linda.”
“And now 181 years later, after almost two centuries, my mother and father, my two sons, my wife and myself sat down in that very house and broke bread with the descendant of those who owned members of my family. We are cousins by blood,” he continued, emphasizing that the two are not focusing on the historical evils of enslavement. “And tonight we took the first steps together towards also becoming friends.”
Steward told ABC News the meeting was not “about the past” nor was it about trying “to fix things that we can’t ever change.” Instead, he said “this was about, ‘My name is Nkrumah Steward,’ and ‘My name is Robert Adams, pleasure to meet you, cousin. Let’s get to know each other.’ ”
Adams told ABC the families “thoroughly enjoyed” the dinner meeting, which also included him giving the Steward family a tour of the grounds featuring overseer’s quarters and slaves quarters that housed two families.
“Everybody understands that this history occurred and I think times are a changin’,” Adams said. “People are much more interested in getting to know each other now than they were generations ago. And I think that’s a healthy thing. It’s always good to get to know new family that you didn’t know previously, and this is such an interesting story that it was a pretty remarkable meeting.”
Adams owns the plantation with his wife, Shana. It now operates as a bed and breakfast and a wedding venue and also hosts educational tours.
Despite negative criticism on both sides from what Steward called “small, small, small people that don’t understand why I even went [to the plantation],” he said the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. That attitude was reflected in the comments of the father of two’s Facebook post.
Commenters on Yahoo also praised Steward for being a man who “gets it.”
Steward told ABC his family will “definitely be back” at Wavering Place Plantation.
One thought on “Slave Descendant Shares Dinner with Plantation Owner in ‘Remarkable’ Meeting Praised by White Community: ‘Here’s a Guy Who Truly Gets it’”
Tonja, You're dropping to much truth however, the descendants of the slaves should get their fair share of the wealth accumulated through out history though. The slave owners did what they do best in hiding the identity of the slaves by putting them in unmaked graves. Keep in mind that they were considered commodities. If your cow dies, you don't make a grave that states the life and death of your cow with the name of such animal labeled on the tombstone. Let alone leaving a nice Christian message talking about how god loves them……. I couldn't be so open armed like them if I visited a forced labor prison and meeting the ancestors who owned my family. Things would have been a bit different imho……