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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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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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