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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
cousin Alex Witt Germany to Alabama 1914 Tuscaloosa, Alabama oral history

I have limited knowledge on my African- American heritage before my families great migration to Detroit, MI. So I began searching for family. My Great Aunt Juanita Francis told me about her mother's people. Well that led me to contact a great cousin Alex or Alec. Anyway Alex was more than happy to share his knowledge. According to him, we are descendants of a Red Headed German "Pleus Witt" who with his brother (believed to have been soldiers) migrated to the US around War World I. Pleus married a black woman and had 11 or 12 children. She died and he married another black woman and had another dozen children. We are of the second crew. Hence the joke that we didn't get black till the 20th century. Well my family have this amazing ability to pass around the same names. So a host of Alexs, Marys, Alices, Monroes, Roberts, Elizabeths and Louis Witts were born. Well my great-great grandfather married a purebred indian known as either Crazy Jenny or Rachel. One was the mother the other the offspring who gave birth to Elizabeth Witt. Elizabeth married Bert Jordan and had three children including my grandfather Ricardo Jordan (b. 1932), Auntie Juanita and Uncle Louis. Elizabeth died when auntie was two so the children were divided among relatives. Aunt Gertrude, Uncle Bob and a counsin "Big Auntie".

Well Aunt Gert ran a whorehouse down in Livingston County and cousin Monroe went to jail for killing a white man and again for a black man. And the sheriff was a white cousin from the other German, who kept my Aunt Gert in business. All I know is they are a bunch of light-skinned, mole carrying people with a high incidence of alcholism, strong, entrepreneur, spirited, and domestic family madness.

Oh and they use to throw money at problems. i.e. When my 16 year old grandfather married and had my mother (Akua Budu Watkins) by his 17 year old wife. The family bribed him with a brand new Cadillac to leave her because she already had a child out of wedlock. And that would be a stain on the family? lol My grandfather later found Islam and became El Shabazz Abdullah. So as with any family its the colorful history that draws ones interest.

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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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