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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
In Search of Our Roots -- Buy the companion book now from ShopPBS
Sharing Stories: One Family's Story
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STORYTELLER LOCATION YEAR TOOK PLACE TELLER'S PLACE OF ORIGIN HOW YOU HEARD
grandfather New Bedford, Massachusetts, New York, Red Bank, New Jersey 1880s Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde Islands Passed down

My paternal grandfather arrived in the United States at the age of 14 years old in the mid-1880's, from the Portuguese owned islands of Cape Verde, with no knowledge of the language, or job skills other than fishing and whaling. The people of Cape Verde were a mixture of African slaves and Portuguese colonists. They were abandoned by the Portuguese, but remained under their rule until approximately 27 years ago. The islands suffered from drought, volcanos, and no economy. Most adult males left the islands for months, even years at a time, sending back money and goods to their wife, kids and extended family. The work ethic and model was - as you make it, you reach out and provide for your extended family, which included other islanders. The sense of community was strong, because in order to survival they had to come together to assist each other. Their model was "each one teach one," and plan for the future.

Once in the States, he worked at any job he could acquire, studied the English language, and finally became a citizen. He went on to marry and together he and his wife (from Hanover County, VA) scrimped and saved their money until they were able to take advantage of distressed properties. Over the course of his life, as he continuted to work manual labor, he acquired enough properties to retire on, and give to each child as they married. He and his wife, a wonderful seamstress who managed the money, made all the clothing for their five children, sent three of their five children to college, stressing education as the vehicle to a good life.

He instilled in his children and grandchildren the value of helping others in need, and to make good choices. He gave his grandchildren a choice when they turned 18 years of age: a automobile or a house. He left the choice to them entirely, however kept a keen eye for the one who he thought could see beyond immediate gratification. When we speak of him today, we remember that family and community was most valued by him and this can be seen through his children as one opened a "soup kitchen" after touring the world in the foreigh service another opened her home to whoever needed shelter from an abusive spouse, or just down and out momentarily. My grandfather shared his wisdom with others, instructing them on how to acquire property rather than spend money on continuous rent.

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Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 and its outreach initiatives is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional corporate funding is provided by Buick.
The Coca-Cola Company Johnson & Johnson Buick
KUNHARDT Thirteen/WNET New York