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Healing and Repair: Dialogues with Descendants of Enslaved Communities at Historic Washington/Custis Sites

Roundtable Discussion


Increasingly, staff at sites of enslavement are collaborating with descendants of enslaved people. However, doing this work requires healing and connection before these partnerships can move on to repair, truth-telling, and collaboration. The panelists were all part of an innovative racial reconciliation and healing process commissioned by Arlington House, a National Park Service site that was once home to Martha Washington’s grandson George Washington Parke Custis. This roundtable aims to describe the larger racial reconciliation process and lessons learned, as well as reflecting on how this experience is changing the work of all of those involved moving forward.

Public History and Memory Race Local and Community History 19th Century

Session Participants

Dr. Cassandra Good, Marymount University

Chair; Panelist

Cassandra Good serves as an Associate Professor of History at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. She received her PhD in history from the University of Pennsylvania. Her area of expertise is late eighteenth through nineteenth century America with particular focus on politics, gender and cultural history. She also has experience in museums, new media, and public history through her work at the Smithsonian Institution and as a consultant to museums and historic sites. Her book on George Washington's family is First Family: George Washington's Heirs and the Making of America (Harper Collins, June 2023).

Cassie Anderson


Susan Glisson, The Welcome Table Collaborative


Based in Mississippi, Susan M. Glisson is an experienced facilitator and racial healing expert who has been leading social justice and community building initiatives in some of the most complicated places for over 25 years.

Glisson was the founding executive director of the internationally recognized William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, a human rights and social justice non-profit housed at the University of Mississippi. In that role, she supported the community driven call for justice in Neshoba County that finally secured a state conviction in the “Mississippi Burning” case, after forty years without justice.

Glisson holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary. She is the founder and president of the Glisson Group, a healing and equity consulting firm, which fosters restorative, truthful dialogues that reckon with history in order to cultivate healing and repair. She also directs a non-profit network of healing and equity partners across the country called The Welcome Table Collaborative.

Mr. Stephen Hammond


Steve is a 7th generation member of the Syphax family of Washington, DC: a line that moved by force to New Orleans and then by choice to Denver. He has participated in a variety of National Park Service programs at the Arlington House – the Robert E. Lee Memorial to highlight the lives of his Syphax ancestors and other enslaved Americans on the estate. He has spoken at the African American Civil War Museum and the historic Decatur House on Lafayette Square both in Washington, DC and has contributed to exhibits at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. His goals are to educate and inspire others to research and document their own family history.

Ms. Tramia Jackson


Tramia is the Director of Learning at George Washington’s Mount Vernon where she oversees teacher professional development including the George Washington Teacher Institute as well as student learning and family engagement programming at Mount Vernon. Prior to joining the team at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Tramia served as the Senior Coordinator for the Science Research Mentoring Consortium at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The Consortium is made up of 23 institutions across New York City --zoos, museums, universities -- dedicated to providing mentored science research opportunities for high school students throughout NYC. Tramia joined AMNH from the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience where she managed From Brown v. Board to Ferguson, an innovative three-year program linking eleven museums and community partners to create dialogue-based public programs and train youth in activism around issues of race, mass incarceration and education equity in the context of civil rights. Tramia also served as the North American Network liaison, and provided direct services to over 100 museums, historic sites and archives. Before joining the Coalition, Tramia served as the Director of Education at the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She completed her MA in History Museum Studies at the Cooperstown Graduate Program at SUNY Oneonta and received her BA in History from The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Jessie MacLeod


Jessie MacLeod is an Associate Curator at Mount Vernon, where she has worked since 2012. She has curated numerous exhibitions including the award-winning Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington's Mount Vernon (2016-2021). She received a B.A. in history from Yale University and an M.A. in public history from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.