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Thomas Jefferson seen alongside sixth-great-grandson in portrait

Thomas Jefferson is seen alongside his black descendant in portrait of sixth-great-grandson of the third US president and his slave Sally Hemings

  • Shannon LaNier, the sixth great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, wore a similar outfit for as his ancestor for Smithsonian Magazine
  • Image was taken for the Smithsonian Magazine’s article, American Descendants
  • The magazine’s article features photos by British photographer Drew Gardner 
  • Gardner has tracked down descendants of famous Europeans such as Napoleon and Charles Dickens to see if they would ‘pose as their famous forebears’ 
  • LaNier, who is black, said the article ‘is helping hold a mirror to America’
  • He said it reflects how Jefferson ‘not only took part in creating this country but also it’s people… black, white, brown, yellow & red’

The sixth great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings has shared an image of himself posing alongside the third US president as part of a photo series that he says holds ‘a mirror’ to America. 

Shannon LaNier was photographed by British photographer Drew Gardner for the Smithsonian Magazine’s article, American Descendants. 

LaNier, who is a TV host in Houston, shared the images of him dressed in similar attire as Jefferson on Instagram. 

‘The @smithsonianmagazine is helping hold a mirror to #America & reflect how #President #ThomasJefferson not only took part in creating this country but also it’s people… black, white, brown, yellow & red!’ LaNier wrote.  

Shannon LaNier

Shannon LaNier (right), the sixth great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson (left) and his slave Sally Hemings has shared an image of himself posing alongside the third US president as part of a photo series that he says holds ‘a mirror’ to America

‘As the 6th great grandson of TJ & #SallyHemings, I’m only 1 example of how #slavery has not only separated the country but also made us more in common & connected than some may think!’ he continued. 

While his attire was similar to Jefferson’s in the portraits, LaNier chose not to wear a wig. 

‘I didn’t want to become Jefferson,’ LaNier told the Smithsonian Magazine.

‘My ancestor had his dreams—and now it’s up to all of us living in America today to make sure no one is excluded from the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ 

LaNier, who co-authored the book Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family, added: ‘He was a brilliant man who preached equality, but he didn’t practice it. He owned people. And now I’m here because of it.’

Sally Hemings was the mother of six of Thomas Jefferson’s children while she was enslaved at the Monticello estate.

According to her son Madison Hemings, her father was Thomas Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles. 

Hemings became Jefferson’s property as part of his inheritance from the Wayles estate in 1774 and came with her mother Elizabeth Hemings in 1776. 

'As the 6th great grandson of TJ & #SallyHemings, I'm only 1 example of how #slavery has not only separated the country but also made us more in common & connected than some may think!' LaNier (pictured) continued

‘As the 6th great grandson of TJ & #SallyHemings, I’m only 1 example of how #slavery has not only separated the country but also made us more in common & connected than some may think!’ LaNier (pictured) continued 

Hemings, worked as a household servant, was never a free woman, but she was allowed to leave Monticello following Jefferson’s death to live with sons Madison and Eston Hemings in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

The photo series also included descendants of Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton posing as their relatives.

Gardner’s photo series started about 15 years ago when he began tracking down the descendants of famous Europeans like Napoleon and Oliver Cromwell for the purpose of asking them to pose as their famous relatives. 

He then turned his sights to the US, telling the Smithsonian Magazine: ‘For all its travails, America is the most brilliant idea.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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