President's Lecture Series


Shay Banks-Young and Julia Jefferson Westerinen: "The Affairs of Race in America: A Conversation in Black & White"

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Mills Godwin Jr. Building - Auditorium

Lecture Series

President's Lecture Series


When genetic testing suggested Thomas Jefferson bore children with his slave Sally Hemings, Shay Banks-Young and Julia Jefferson Westerinen were not surprised. Banks-Young, who is black, and Westerinen, who is white, have long believed that their great-great-grandfathers, Eston and Madison, were, in fact, the sons of Jefferson and Hemings.

A report made public by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation last week found that the best evidence available suggests the likelihood that Thomas Jefferson fathered one, and perhaps all, of the known children of Sally Hemings.

To Banks-Young and Westerinen and their families, the 38-year relationship between America's third president and one of his slaves raises questions about race relations and political "morality" in the United States. In their talk, the pair will engage in an honest, new dialogue about these issues and discuss the differences and similarities they share.

Banks-Young is a preventive health trainer and a poet who has hosted her own public affairs talk show. She was named one of Cosmopolitan magazine's 1999 Fun, Fearless Females for her community-building efforts. Westerinen is a former educator turned businesswoman.

Together and separately, they have appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley" and "Sally Jesse Raphael."

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A 1/2" VHS copy of this lecture is available in the Special Collections & University Archives Department of Old Dominion University Perry Library. Call #: LD4331.A57 2000b

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