Descendants of Slaves, Plantation Owner Have Dinner Together in South Carolina

Robert Adams and Nkrumah Steward
Robert Adams and Nkrumah Steward Courtesy of Nkrumah Steward

A long time in the making. Nkrumah Steward, the descendant of a long lineage of slaves, and Robert Adams, the descendant of a South Carolina plantation owner, sat down to dinner together with their families on Thursday, June 30, nearly 181 years after their ancestors made them kin.

“Tonight my family and I were dinner guests at Wavering Place, an old plantation founded in 1768 near Hopkins, South Carolina where four generations of my grandmothers lived and worked as slaves when they were emancipated in 1865,” Steward wrote in a post to Facebook that has since been shared nearly 1,000 times. “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, 44, then broke down the lineage on both his and Adams’ side to show how the two unlikely men are indeed a part of the same family.

“Louisa had Octavia. Octavia had James. James had my grandfather JD. JD had my mother Linda,” he wrote. “And now 181 yard 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. And tonight we took the first steps together towards also becoming friends. #WaveringPlace #Family #Friends.”

In an interview with ABC News, the Michigan native noted that the meeting of the two families was “not about the past.”

“This was not about, ‘Let’s try to fix things that we can’t ever change,’” 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.’”

Steward shared several images of the family reunion, which included a tour of the Hopkins, South Carolina grounds, as well as a summer meal of pasta, salad and white wine.

In one photo, Steward smiles happily while showing his two young sons the place where their ancestors had lived for many years.

“This picture doesn’t do justice to how beautiful this area is,” the proud dad captioned the photo. “I would love to sit down in the fall and read a good book on one of these benches. If there was Wifi I am sure the kids would appreciate it a lot more. Lol.”

Adams also spoke with ABC about the experience, and noted that he felt the three-hour conversation was just “the tip of the iceberg.”

“We thoroughly enjoyed it,” Adams said. “Our history is a shared one, and we celebrate our family connection. There’s a dark part of that history that was an unfortunate part of our nation’s past, but we don’t let that keep us from moving forward and getting to know family members. … Slavery happened and that should be recognized. In today’s world, I think we can move beyond the past and work on a better world for everybody.”

Adams still owns Wavering Place Plantation, which has since become a bed and breakfast and venue rental. He and his wife Shana and brother and sister-in-law Weston and Lisa also offer education tours.

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