Gorton Center - Lake Forest, IL - FAN: To Tell the Truth: Race, Identity, and Healing

FAN: To Tell the Truth: Race, Identity, and Healing

Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

FAN: To Tell the Truth: Race, Identity, and Healing

Thu, April 4
7:00 pm
- 8:00 pm


Thu, April 04, 2024 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Since the sequencing of the genome in 2003, we have known that humans share 99.9 percent of our DNA with all other humans, regardless of skin tone or nationality, indicating that race is not a biological reality as much as a legal and cultural construction. Today, thanks to sites like Ancestry.com and 23 and Me, these facts are getting personal, as Americans discover ancestries that complicate long-held family identities. What should we do when we discover a family secret? And how can our ancestral stories help to illuminate our present moment?

This conversation begins with the premise that telling the truth is essential for healing. Join Rachel Jamison Webster, Professor of Creative Writing at Northwestern University, as she shares the story of her book, Benjamin Banneker and Us: Eleven Generations of an American Family. In 2016, Webster learned about several generations of African American ancestry that had been hidden in her family. This line traced back to the sister of Benjamin Banneker—the first Black man of science. Banneker was a free man living in the Revolutionary era. He helped survey Washington D.C., he compiled and published bestselling almanacs, and he corresponded with Jefferson about the heinous injustice of slavery.

Webster’s journey led her to celebrate Banneker’s brilliance, as well as that of his parents, grandparents, and sisters, and to grapple with the ways that racism had clouded the story of her family and country. She found herself in deep relationship and collaboration with her African American cousins—fellow Banneker descendants who came together to collaborate on the book. Together they celebrated their shared ancestors, and discussed race, history, and identity with unflinching honesty.

Webster will be in conversation with Melissa Blount, Ph.D., an artist, writer, and licensed clinical psychologist practicing her craft in Evanston, IL. Her textile pieces explore notions of Black womanhood, trauma, and white supremacy in America.

BONUS AFTER-HOURS EVENT: Attendees who purchase a copy of Benjamin Banneker and Us from FAN’s partner bookseller The Book Stall are invited to attend an AFTER-HOURS event hosted by Webster and Blount that will start immediately after the webinar. Details on the webinar registration page.

This event suitable for youth 12+. It will be recorded and available on FAN’s website and YouTube channel.


Thu, April 4
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Categories: