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How The Black And White Dula Family Reconciled Their Past

Dula family reunions in western North Carolina include members of the black and white sides of the family. But for decades these two sides did not communicate or even acknowledge their relation. The two branches of the family started with a man named Alfred and a woman named Harriet. Before Harriet, Alfred had married a white woman and had six children, but his first wife died young. He then bought an enslaved woman named Harriet to help him with his family, and the two had eight more children.

Filmmaker Beth Davison explored this story in her recent documentary “Dulatown.” Davison is a faculty member at Appalachian State University and talks with host Frank Stasio about the process behind making the film. The two are also joined by members of the Dula family: Leslie Dula McKesson and Beth Hickman Hage.

McKesson is the author of “Black and White: The Story of Harriet Harshaw and Squire James Alfred Dula” (MLS Publishing/2013). She is also a retired dean of Western Piedmont Community College. “Dulatown” will be screened at the Meredith College Documentary Film Festival at Carswell Auditorium in Raleigh on Jan. 27.

Amanda Magnus is the executive producer of Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships and health. She has also worked on other WUNC shows including Tested and CREEP.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.