A Blueprint for Racial Healing | Dr. Spenser Simrill, Jr. | TEDxAsheville

A Blueprint for Racial Healing | Dr. Spenser Simrill, Jr. | TEDxAsheville

John Simril's Discovery and Guilt

  • John Simril, a white man, discovers through DNA testing and research that his great-great-grandfather, Tom Simril, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and nearly killed a paralyzed preacher named Elias Hill during the Jim Crow era.
  • Elias Hill, a voting rights advocate, was saved from drowning by Tom Simril but was severely beaten and traumatized.
  • John feels guilt and shame upon learning about his ancestor's actions and struggles to reconcile his family's history with the descendants of those enslaved by his ancestors.

Reaching Out and Connecting

  • John reaches out to Michael Simril, a black man who shares the same last name and is from the same area, but Michael does not initially respond.
  • John and his father eventually make contact with Michael's mother, Rita, and they plan a family picnic to bring together the white and black Simril families.
  • At the picnic, the two sides initially feel some tension but eventually come together and embrace, recognizing their shared humanity and the importance of unity.

Collaboration and Historical Recognition

  • John and Michael continue to connect and collaborate, attending historical reenactments and working to create a historical marker to honor Elias Hill and Harriet Simril, Elias' niece who testified against the Ku Klux Klan.
  • They aim to amend the past by acknowledging their ancestors' actions and promoting reconciliation and understanding between the descendants of slaveholders and the descendants of those who were enslaved.

Elias Hill and Harriet Simril

  • Elias Hill and Harriet, former slaves, escaped to Liberia after testifying against the Ku Klux Klan.
  • There were no markers in South Carolina for the Ku Klux Klan despite having 300 markers for the Confederacy.
  • Elias and Harriet's home was underwater due to a dam built in 1904.
  • Elias sold 40 acres of land to the Simril family before immigrating to Liberia.

Trip to Liberia and Historical Marker Unveiling

  • John and Michael planned a trip to Liberia to find where Elias and Harriet settled, but Michael had to cancel.
  • John visited Arthington, Liberia, and met with Michael's relatives who were initially suspicious but became friendly after seeing photos.
  • They visited Elias Hill's family cemetery and unveiled a historical marker for Elias and Harriet at Allison Creek Presbyterian Church.

Solomon Hill and Family Reunion

  • Solomon Hill, Michael's ancestor, was a blacksmith who became the richest citizen of Liberia.
  • John and Michael's family had a reunion and celebrated the launch of their podcast.

Emphasis on Unity

  • John emphasizes the importance of unity and togetherness for the Simril family.

Overwhelmed by Endless Content?