Last week, two families sat down for dinner.
That really isn't unusual or special, but what made this gathering rare was that it took some 181 years to get there.
Nkrumah Steward, the descendant of a slave, and Robert Adams, the descendant of a plantation owner, pulled together the meeting between their two families to enjoy a meal on the same South Carolina property where Steward's family was once enslaved.
“This was not about the past,” Steward, 44, told ABC News, according to Yahoo! News. “This was not about, ‘Let’s try to fix things that we can’t ever change.’ This was about, ‘My name is Nkrumah Steward,’ and ‘My name is Robert Adams, pleasure to meet you, cousin. Let’s get to know each other.’”
According to the report, the two men are, in fact, cousins, as Steward detailed in a Facebook post that has been shared almost 500 times since Thursday.
"Tonight, my family and I were dinner guests at Wavering Place, an old plantation founded in 1768 near Hopkins, South Carolina where four generations of my grandmothers lived and worked as slaves when they were emancipated in 1865. The reason I was there tonight was because 181 years ago, in 1835, Joel Robert Adams and my 4th great grandmother, one of his slaves, Sarah Jones Adams had a daughter, Louisa. Louisa had Octavia. Octavia had James. James had my grandfather JD. JD had my mother Linda," Steward wrote. "And now 181 years later, after almost two centuries, my mother and father, my two sons, my wife and myself sat down in that very house and broke bread with the descendant of those who owned members of my family. We are cousins by blood. And tonight we took the first steps together towards also becoming friends."
While Steward says most of the reaction to his post has been positive, there has been some anger as well.
“Ninety-nine-point-nine percent overwhelmingly positive, but there has been some anger from both sides, from small, small, small people that don’t understand why I even went,” he said, according to ABC. “They see me smiling with my cousin, and say, ‘You forgot all the things that happened on that plantation.’
“Robert is a descendant of people who owned my family. He didn’t own anybody,” Steward continued. “I am a descendant of slaves that his family owned. I have never been a slave. This is about history. This is about family. There is nothing he can do or I can do that can change the fact that I have relatives who may have died on that plantation. This was about seeing a physical place that my relatives walked, regardless of the condition.”
According to the report, Adams and his wife, Shana, still own the property, which is now called Wavering Place Plantation. The property has been passed down since 1766 and is currently open for education tours. It functions as a bed-and-breakfast as well as a wedding venue.
“We thoroughly enjoyed it,” Adams said. “Our history is a shared one, and we celebrate our family connection. There’s a dark part of that history that was an unfortunate part of our nation’s past, but we don’t let that keep us from moving forward and getting to know family members.
“We had a three-hour conversation, and there’s so much more to say,” Adams added. “That was just the tip of the iceberg. As great of an evening it was, there is so much more to unearth.”
And Steward, for his part, is looking forward to taking his family back.
“My family will definitely be back,” he said. “There was a lot of optimism and positivity and love in the group that night. Every time I come down there, I will be calling my cousin. He had a list of people he wanted me to meet.”
Read more at Yahoo! News.