The Future Belongs to Us

Illustration by Natalie K. Nelson.

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The Future Belongs to Us

by William Sturkey
Southern Cultures, Vol. 25, No. 2: Inside/Outside

"What will come, I hope, is an honest reckoning that will one day finally set all of us free."

“I just want to let you know,” the older white man told me at a late-summer fish fry, “that my family owned slaves, and those slaves were happy.” This was mid-September of 2014, my second year as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The event was held at the Love House, the home of UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South. I was one of two black people in a crowd of more than a hundred, many insiders, predominantly southerners, most of them welcome in a place meant to feel like home.