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For blacks, tracing the past can be a painful trip

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Nina Bennett used documents like the death certificate of her great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Smith, to help her trace her roots. (Courtesy of Nina Bennett)

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A relative of Nina Bennett's had this composite photograph made of Bennett's great-grandparents, Anna Bell Saunders and Andrew Jackson Smith. (Courtesy of Nina Bennett)

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When Nina Bennett was eight, she penciled in this image of her great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Smith. (Courtesy of Nina Bennett)

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Nina Bennett used documents like the World War II ration book of her great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Smith, to help her discover more about the experiences of her ancestors. (Courtesy of Nina Bennett)

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For white Americans, tracing their roots can lead them to a passage booked on the Mayflower; but, for black Americans, going back to the boat is often a painful, emotional experience.


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