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January 03, 2007

Plantation Roots

Ricky Hart had a life-altering epiphany while watching the TV series, "Roots." The scene depicted the slave, Kunta Kinte, being whipped into using his new name, Toby. It outraged him, but it also inspired him to dig into his own family history, which dates back to a plantation in North Carolina.

Ricky now wishes he could live on the plantation where his enslaved ancestors worked. The reason: he believes that confronting history has the power to redeem us.

Ricky tells Dick what lured generations of his family to stay until 1970 on the Stagville Plantation. Together they explore the Hart family's history through stories, photos, a hand-me-down biscuit bowl, and a kind of slave owner's manual, written by slave owner Willie Lynch.

The Willie Lynch book, "The Making of a Slave," inspired me to do a lot of things to help break the control cycle of this destructive path we are on. But I have started at the ground floor, researching, studying and reading, to get the understanding of how it happened, why does it continue to happen, and how to hopefully have a hand in untying the noose around our necks, the blinders off our eyes, and the shackles on our minds.

- Ricky L. Hart

Later in the conversation, Ricky and Dick are joined by Jennifer Farley, a professional historian who's been working on the Stagville Plantation. Many of the descendants of Stagville's enslaved community still live in the area and are helping her with her research. Ricky and Jennifer are planning a reunion of Stagville Plantation descendants in June 2007.

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