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Two Women On Their Shared History Through American Slavery

Karen and Ann sit on the porch of Albert J. Pickett's family home.
Karen and Ann sit on the porch of Albert J. Pickett's family home.

Some websites are helping the descendants of enslaved people learn more about their ancestry, including two women who met online and discovered a shared history. One, Karen Orozco Gutierrez, is the descendant of an enslaved man, Milton Howard. The other, Ann Banks, is a descendant of the Alabama man who enslaved him, A.J. Pickett.

Banks wrote about their story for Smithsonian Magazine.

My ancestry was so clear that I could relate a childhood memory to a stranger and he could identify which ancestors I was talking about and where they’d lived, even down to the bric-a-brac they’d left behind. Karen, by contrast, had worked for years just to confirm the basic facts of her ancestor’s early life.

We talk to both women about their journey to the past and what it means for the present.

This show was produced in partnership with Smithsonian Magazine.

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