finding your roots

The Niece of a Voodoo Queen

sylvia robinson May 15, 2012

Now that I know my ancestry I understand more fully the way I was raised, and the beliefs and values of my family. My mother never explained who she was ,nor the rich legacy of her family, nor the origin of her unique beliefs and values. She died, and just about everyone else in the family who could possibly have known. It was by sheer chance that I came to know who I am; the neice of Marie Laveau; possibly the most powerful woman of color in nineteenth-century New Orleans; a Voodoo queen whose legend is still alive and well.
I returned to live in New Orleans after an absence of well over thirty years. I took a adult geneology course at the local community college back in the early 90′s. I had no idea what I would find. The first night of the course, we were asked to fill in the names of as many of our ancesters we knew on both sides of our families. My only reference to my history beyond my maternal great grandmother was a scrap of paper with names given to me back in the 60′s by a visiting relative. I had carried that scrap of paper with other family records for over 30 years, and many moves across the country. Armed with just crumbs and the tools I needed to access the ancestral records ; I followed the path to grandma’s house and discovered Marie Laveaux, the wife of Francois Auguste, and the half sister of the woman who many say was the most powerful woman of her time.

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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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