This story begins in the 17th century, with the arrival of my English ancestors in America and traverses through the linked progeny of slaves and slaveholders.
For me, this story came alive a few years ago when a stranger named Diane contacted me through Facebook.
Because of our shared last name, Hankerson . . .
Diane wondered if she and I were related, even though she is black and I am white.
I knew that what she was suggesting was plausible, because we share an uncommon last name that has been passed down for eight generations in the United States.
After three years of correspondence, Diane was no longer a stranger to me and I traveled to her home to photograph her.
Meeting Diane marked the beginning of my interest in a larger family narrative that spans 260 years.
Through this project-in-progress, I am following the direct line to the Hankerson ancestors with the aim of visually joining a fractured family narrative that has been stolen, lost or misremembered.
These portraits are interconnected beyond the last name that they share. Perhaps they relate through background, demography or worldview?
The project The Hankersons does more than to explore genealogy.
It explores the ways in which individuals make a family . . .
and in a broader sense, how the Hankerson story relates to a defining National experience.