February 20th, 2012
01:49 PM ET

CNN's Don Lemon talks to descendants of a slave and a slave owner

Through reenactments, archival photographs and interviews with top scholars, living descendants and the author of “Slavery by Another Name,” Douglas Blackmon, a new PBS film examines the “neoslavery” that persisted in the South years after the Civil War. According to Blackmon, thousands of African Americans remained enslaved until the beginning of World War II.”

CNN's Don Lemon interviews two women featured in the film, both connected by a disturbing past. Susan Burnore, the descendant of a slave owner named John Williams, who was believed to be the only white man convicted for murdering 11 slaves; and Tonya Groomes, a descendant of a slave that Williams once owned.

This is the second installment of interviews done by Don Lemon on CNN's News Room.

View here for the interview with Don Lemon and the author of "Slavery by Another Name," Douglas Blackmon.

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • History • Race • Who we are
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. SBawgin2

    I am glad for black history month because it continues to educate, remind everyone of what to be better than, of what NOT to return to (even in small ways-e. g. Jim Crow) and to be thankful for. It is American History.

    February 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |

    note the 332 AEW was deactived by Obama

    February 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jeff

    I understand slavery was a big part of the u.s. but you cannot be terrorised by something you were never a part of. I'm not saying we should forget but its been more than a generation since slavery let's move past this (for lack of a better term) dark period in our nations history, we don't blame germans for the sins of their forefathers why condemn or force decendence pf slave owners to apologize for the sins of their ancestors... btw there is a black man in the presidents chair the race crs is now out of play!

    February 21, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Thats because it had something way more to do with just physical slavery.

      February 21, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. mikrik13

    It pays to be a victim in modern America. Especially if you never were one.

    February 21, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. Queen

    I am so blessed to know my personal black history. Im glad my Great Grandmother shows me pictures of her mother and tells the story of an Indian slave and the slave owner. The outcome of their union created the people in my family today. The owners property land is still in my family today. Slavery was a terrible act for alot of and I am sorry. My black history tells a different story.

    February 21, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. EducatedIrishman

    A lot of bad things have had happened to a lot of different cultures over the years, I don't think "getting over it" is the solution. Yes we are all part of the "human race" but we each come from different historical backgrounds that should be embraced. The black life was not an easy one and the fear mongering created by the uneducated (in all races) about other races is what's holding us back. At 13 I was sent to a primarily black school where prior to this my own father tried to convince me I was likely to be stabbed or assaulted because of the cultural differences. He couldn't have been more wrong. Whether we like it or not our cultural difference do exist and are quite apparent but its accepting those cultures as differences not trying to ignore them that makes coexisting easy. I get along better with my black friends than I do my white ones because of this fact. If you really want to change the world, stop trying to say we are all the same, and embrace the differences because that's how progress is made. The quality of a man should be judged by one thing only and I will leave it to you readers to figure out what it is.

    February 21, 2012 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. Natalea

    Am I the only one who knows that it was not only white people who owned slaves? Back before the Civil War before the North abolished slavery there were some blacks who owned their own people as slaves. Let us not forget either it was the chiefs of the tribes in Africa who sold their own people to slavery in trade for something else. While slavery was and still is a horrible thing many people must remember it did not only involve whites and blacks.

    February 21, 2012 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Diane

      So what does that have to do this this story? "some" blacks owned slaves....but MOST slave owners in the US were white.

      February 21, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chandra

    Some of these comments simply amaze me. I'm a Black Woman and I enjoy Black History Month. For me, every month is Black History month because I set out to learn something about my people...not just during the month of February! As long as we live, there will be racism and more times than not we'll certainly be misunderstood. We have to keep on pushing!!

    February 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Samira Lorne

    I'm tired of all this black history month business because blacks were not the only ones who were enslaved and oppressed. Irish people were enslaved and mistreated just as bad, in the States and the Caribbean. We have to open our minds and realize that at the end of the day we are all human and no one deserves to be treated like a sub human regardless of race! Everyone should make an effort to best person they can be everyday and learn to love anyone regardless of race! No one is better than the other. In my eyes, there is one race and that is the human race!

    February 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just saying it like it is

      I'm with you on the Black History Month thing, but to compare the African American oppression and slavery to the Irish is like apples and oranges. Maybe if you said Native Americans that would of made more sense. I also hope you understand why these two are not even the same.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veronica Tucker

      I agree I'm really getting tired of African Americans pulling the "repressed black / minority" card guess what they are no longer the minority in America. Prelimanary census for 2011 shows that whites are in the minority among births in America, and if the African American community wants restatution for the evils done to there ancestors ship them back to africa.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
      • Elemental

        Oh, Veronica. You poor girl. Because a birthrate is on the decline doesn't mean that specific group is a minority. Not yet anyway. Whites are still the majority. So your safe for now, dear. That being said, hispanics are the largest "minority" in the U.S. and their birthrate is steadily climbing. Do some homework and study the census data, sweetheart. Anyone with half a brain can figure this out. I enjoy hearing everyone whine and complain about blacks, hispanics,asians, and whatever minority du jour is in their sights that day. If you don't like the melting pot of America and think that whiners need to "go back to Africa/Mexico/China..." or whatever nation they or their ancestors hailed from, then maybe you should take the initiative and head back to whatever nation or region your ancestors came from. I'm sure that everyone there will look just like you, maybe even think like you and guess what, there probably aren't any blacks there or such a small percentage of such that you won't have to endure their bellyaching anymore. Won't that be capitol?! Oh joy! :-/ No one is holding any of us here by force and we're free to leave at any time. Every single last American has the ability to up and leave and go somewhere they feel more fitting of their beliefs at any time should the other nation want them. But remember, technology is making the world a smaller place so at some point, you're still going to have to face reality and people who don't think like you.

        And to whomever mentioned Native American History Month, we do have one, it's in November. The unfortunate truth is that no one ever makes a big deal out of it like they do Black History Month and Women's History Month. Like many things, Native American History gets forgotten about until someone mentions cooking a turkey. :-/

        February 21, 2012 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Greengrass

      I will go one better than the Irish, actually two. You have the Jews and the Eastern Europeans, and please the Eastern Europeans were taken into slavery when the Romans beat them down, the word slave comes from the word Slav. The Jews have been beaten down almost their entire existence, and they were almost wiped off the map by an idiot.

      February 21, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. Name*rbreezy

    It's good to remember the past so that we are, not doomed to repeat it. There are bigger problems going on in America then the ugly history that took place 400 years ago you have politicians out there willing to run America into ground out pride of political affiliation instead of doing what's is in the best interest of the American people

    February 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeralandia

      The Civil War was fought from 1861-1865, just under 150 years ago. That's a lot less than 400 years ago!

      February 21, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
      • Name*proud bird

        Slavery ended in 1865 but the first slaves arrived in America from Africa in 1619 that was 393 years ago if we're trying to be technical about beginning and ending time lines.

        February 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Name*rbreezy

    S-L -AVERy Massa keeps beatin on Avery do you wanna ride in the backseat of a buggy pick that cotton do it or die!!!!

    February 20, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Proud bird

      Your a Idiot!

      February 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • GrammarNazi

        *You're *an idiot!

        February 21, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. web

    The Civil War was fought on the Union side to preserve the Union, and it was a states rights issue for the Confederacy. and yes, slavery was one of there issues for "States Rights." The southern states didn't want the Federal government telling them what to do.

    February 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. becky

    It was part of American history and it was a very ugly history. You can't get over but you can move forward and make yourself a better person.

    February 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 2cnts

    Why not interview the slave owners of today? People of color around the world and in the U.S. Including those who take pride in "Big Pimpin"

    February 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. corey powell sr

    If you are not aware of your cultural history (NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR FROM) you will forever be lost. THANKS CNN/ PBS.

    February 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  16. corey powell sr

    Saying get over it is like saying "destroy all history books and never study it again.

    February 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Indeeds

      The people who say "get over it", are most likely not phrasing it correctly. I'm white, at least partially descendent from slave owners (great great great great aunt's and uncles, no parents). The thing people want to get past is the hate and shame. I personally have not been racist or detrimental to Black Americans. If you shove enough images in my face about what my distant relatives I never knew may have done, I feel shame. Is this justified? No. My family doesn't have any wealth. All of my great-grandparents were tennant farmers and never owned thier own land or thier own automobiles, and for me, that is my heritage. Is it important we educate people as to the events of the past? Asolutely. I also believe that we can find new ways of educating people about the past without fostering hatred or other harmful effects. We all want what everyone everywhere has wanted, a means to support our families, security, and happiness. Do racists exist, absolutely, and on all sides. Should the actions they commit to carry out thier prejudices be condemned, absolutely!

      February 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • Samira Lorne


        February 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
      • SBawgin2

        Agreed as well!

        February 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |


    February 20, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Juan H

    We grew up never knowing this because the white man has done all he can to keep it under wraps. There is so much about slave history in this country that we will never know completely.

    February 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Random

      The "white man" would also have you believe that the civil war was fought to end slavery, when really it was fought over money and views on the role of government (much like most other wars). Every civilized country besides the US ended slavery peacefully, do you not think we could have done it just as easily? It really just helps paint a pretty picture.

      February 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |