Two families — one black, one white — shared a harrowing history. Then they met. Slavery unexpectedly connected the Kings and the Beckers.

Dr. John B. King, Jr. gave a keynote presentation at the 2018 RIDES national conference that emphasized the need for an ongoing commitment to dismantling racism in our educational systems. King is the current President and CEO of the Education Trust and former United States Secretary of Education under President Barak Obama. Recently, reporter Ian Shapira of the New York Times wrote a story about the King family’s search for their historical roots. King discovered that his great-grandfather was enslaved on a farm 25 miles from his current home in Maryland, and that farm was still owned by direct descendants of that slaveholder.

King shared the story with the RIDES Project, writing that he hopes the story will “spur necessary, albeit difficult, conversations about America’s complicated history and the ongoing struggle to grapple with issues of race and racism.” The article details the King family’s encounter with the current property owners and reminds us of the need to consider history, context, and memory as we work for racial justice.

Please click here to read the full article in the New York Times, published October 23, 2019.