In February 2013, De Kirkpatrick and Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick, classmates at Myers Park High School, reconnected nearly 50 years after their graduation. In their catch-up phone call, Jimmie Lee asked De what the H in his initials H.D. stood for. De said Hugh. That’s when both men learned that De’s great-great-grandfather, also named Hugh, owned Jimmie Lee’s great-great-great-grandfather, a slave named Sam. Together, they began examining their families and the county where they grew up, Mecklenburg, where 1 in 3 people were slaves in 1860.
Since that initial call they have together researched their joint heritage. Additionally, as a black man and white man in the South they have engaged in a rare and personally intimate conversation on topics that most of us avoid: inequity, race and slavery.