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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
My mother suburb of Buffalo, NY 1960s From upstate New York (ancestors from Wales) It is the story of my own father's background

My (late) Methodist-minister Dad was born in San Fernando, Trinidad, West Indies (WI). Since he was light skinned, while growing up, I'd thought our family was white. A 1947 visit to Trinidad at age 12, left me thinking my darker skinned cousins just had a good tan. But when one of these darker skinned cousins visited my home near Buffalo, NY (when I was about 26), my Mom came running out to my car saying, "Don't be shocked, but your cousin is part black." I thought my Dad's brother must have married a woman with a black background, but two years later, I learned it was on my Dad's side of the family too (his ancestors from the island of Barbados, WI). I experienced a two year period of confusion of identity, dating black men. But then I decided that I didn't know how to be black (culturally), and I "decided" again to "be" white. Soon, I discovered that my family is also part South American Indian, my paternal grandmother being from the Buck Tribe in Georgetown, Guyana (then British Guiana); an accomplished pianist, I'm told. Now (I just turned 70) I am proud of my heritage, and I call myself "mixed."

One other thing --- it is likely that my farther-back paternal ancestors were Jewish, migrating to the West Indies, intermarrying with the local population, and converting to Christianity ---Dad told me that an ancestor was a Dutch Rabbi. They probably escaped the Spanish Inquisition in 1492(?) and first fled to Holland. Before I knew all this, being inexplicably drawn to Judaism in 1988, I was a member of a synagogue for a number of years, but am not now (I resigned because of being socially shunned by my professional and socio-economic counterparts because I am single (I'm a well-to-do business exec; retired)). Judaism is a very family and home oriented religion.

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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.
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KUNHARDT Thirteen/WNET New York