The Descendants of Slaves and Slave-Owners Meet Face-to-Face

Aired on 07/25/1996 | CC tv-pg
The Oprah Show has hosted any number of highly emotional apologies over its 25-year history. Few of them, however, carry the same historic weight as the time the grandchildren of slaves received a moving apology from a man whose ancestors had been notorious slaveholders.

Katie Roper's grandmother—Bright Moth, they call her—was a slave who was owned by the ancestors of Edward Ball, and Katie had passed down stories of her enslaved relatives to her daughter, Charlotte. Edward, whose family owned more than 4,000 slaves and a dozen plantations in South Carolina, had something to say to Katie and Charlotte when he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1996.

"I want to say I'm sorry for the suffering my family caused your family so many years ago and for such a long time," Edward said. "And in saying that, I know that we haven't reached the end of the journey. We haven't even come to the middle. But we might have just put our feet up on the path and taken the first small steps toward understanding."

Watch the video above to find out how Katie and Charlotte responded to Edward's asking for forgiveness.

Original airdate: July 25, 1996

Watch more historical moments involving race relations and Civil Rights from The Oprah Show's 25-year run.