Our National Gathering

“Dozens of Seeds Were Planted in My Heart”


Sixty people from around the US met in Richmond, VA March 16-18 for a first-ever National Gathering of the Coming to the Table Community. Roughly half were descendants of people who had been enslaved, about half were descendants of enslavers, and a few were neither. Ages ranged from 20s to 70s.

Richmond Hill, our gathering site, hosts many racial reconciliation efforts and provided us with a perfect setting. It is situated on the highest hill in Richmond – capital of the Confederacy – and overlooks what used to be the second largest slave-trading port in the country.

It was a rich, full weekend, including small groups for story sharing, topical breakout groups, a powerful healing ritual, a silent auction, and a lively celebration.

The spirit of truth, love, respect and healing was palpable as participants spent a weekend fulfilling the dream Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared in his famous March on Washington speech, the dream that “one day…. the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

Not only did we sit down together, we told our stories, laughed, danced and cried together. In the words of one participant, “Dozens of seeds were planted in my heart.”

Click here to see a video about the weekend.

Click here to see a slideshow from the weekend.

Click here for a special story of healing from National Gathering participants Sylvia Wong Lewis and Karen Branan. Sylvia descends from a victim of lynching and Karen’s ancestors participated in a lynching. They met for the first time in Richmond.

The next National Gathering is being planned for May 2014. Information is available here.

(Photo credit: Jane Feldman)