Two Students in Same Class Found That One’s Ancestors Owned the Other’s Ancestors as Slaves

This past spring semester, students at Johnson C. Smith University, a historically Black educational institution in Charlotte, North Carolina, participated in a joint course with students from nearby Davidson College, a highly rated liberal arts college. The course, entitled “The Sociology of Beatties Ford Road,” explored the history and sociology of the neighborhood near the Johnson C. Smith University campus.

Students in the class were assigned to different research groups that explored various topics. One group focused on the issue of slavery in Mecklenberg County. Ebony Hill, who graduated from Johnson C. Smith University this spring with a degree in business management, and Grace Woodward, a junior sociology major at Davidson College, were members of this research group.

During the course of their research, Hill and Woodward found out that several of Hill’s ancestors had been slaves owned by ancestors of Woodward. It was an eye-opening experience for both young women.

Joseph Edwoodzie, an assistant professor of sociology at Davidson College and one of the developers of the course, said that “this unique class gave new meaning to applied research, taking students from different schools, classrooms, and walks of life to work on one project. It challenged and exposed our own issues and therefore those of our society.”

Dr. Edwoodzie is a graduate of Ithaca College in New York. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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