Published:May 31, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

An English professor discovers that he is descended from Virginia slaves:

“If you said to me that my father’s grandfather grew up in slavery and actually spent maybe the first 10 or 15 years of his life as human chattel, I wouldn’t have been able to take that idea so seriously,” Jackson tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

“I didn’t imagine that those times — the antebellum heritage of the United States — were so close to me,” he says.

IMAGE: Drawing by Lewis Miller, ca. 1853–1857 (The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)