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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 father, uncles, aunts, and grandmother Birmingham, Alabama area 1900s Las Vegas and Ohio My father, uncles, aunt, and grandmother and see something on the internet.

As my grandmother is getting older (93 years), I have been trying to get more information from her as to where we came from prior to Ohio. I found out that both her and my grandfather's families came from the Alabama area. When I was a teenager, I remember I took a trip through Alabama with my father and grandmother. We saw relatives in Birmingham and at that age I really never asked that many questions. But what struck me as odd was seeing a chain of convenience stores with my last name on them. I remember making a joke about that, but never really thought about much after that. Then one day I did a search on the internet of my last name. I came across a KKK site that had a dedication page to this old white man with same last name as mine. I come to find out that this man has been a long time leader of the KKK and is very wealthy and the owner of the convenience store chains I saw in Alabama as a teenager. This man's family is old money in that area and it looks as though this man's ancestor's were plantation owner and slave owners.

When I made a joke about seeing that convenience store chain, as a teeenager, I remember joking with my father saying that the owner of these stores were probably the owners of our ancestor's.

On that KKK website they had quotes from things this man had said and he was someone that just hated black people with a passion, and like I said as I kept digging and digging for more information, his family seemed to have been big plantation owners in that area and had the same last name as my father's father. As I kept searching and reading, all I could think of, is that if my ancestor's were slaves on this man's family plantation I bet it was hell. The hate that this man had, who just so happened to have the same last name as me, had a hate for black people, that had to be something that was past down like a family hierloom.

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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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