Biracial Portraits

Reactions to the Show

Send Your Comments about Secret  Daughter
Dear FRONTLINE and especially June Cross,
The show was amazing; wonderful. I was mesmerized from the first moment to the last. It was entertaining, and valuable to the national dialogue on race. (Or at least in attempting to get one going...)

The most important thing affecting me and my family situation was the final statement that we "have to keep talking." Our family won't talk, so you made it clear to me why no progress will ever be made here! Your mother did make an effort, and it appears she will continue to. I can't help wondering about the after affects of such an open exposure have been, however.

June, I only wish you had pointed out that you are biracial; you are as much white as you are black. Of course I realize there are good reasons for thinking of yourself as black since society does and you were raised with that thought, but as the white grandmother of the most wonderful one year old baby girl, who happens to be biracial, that's who she is and I wouldn't change a thing!

Thanks so much for the show. I loved it, taped it and feel better for having watched it. I hope it will be rerun for others who missed it.

San Diego, CA

In the [press] review section, I am struck by how many of the professional critics took Ms.Cross to task for not expressing outrage at her mother. I felt that Ms. Cross presented herself, the topic and her family with dignity and sensitivity.

Perhaps the disappointed critics should turn to TV talk where participants scream, rant and rave then leave with 20 minute fix or 2 minute quickie solution by therapists who have a book to promote.

I never had the impression that June Cross did this story to get revenge on a mother who denied her existance however understandable those feelings might be. It was my impression that Ms. Cross wanted to raise the questions we all must answer. In my opinion, she succeeded.

Congratulations to Ms. Cross for taking her personal story and successfully helping us take a glimpse into the mirror.
Anonymous Anchorage, Alaska

This was a marvelous program. June is able to show each person's humanity, frailties, and strength of character clearly and without judgement.

I wanted very much not to like Norma. It would be very clear cut to say that she abandoned June for her self interests. However, she obviously was determined to remain in her daughter's life and not to abandon her.

I kept looking for the point in the story where there would be an "AHA!" so that all would be solved and the characters would live happily ever after. Clearly, there were no easy answers in this situation. There was no single right path for all of the characters to have taken because the issues were cultural not individual in their scope.

While race is the primary reason for this story, June's comment on class being the defining difference is a highly accurate description of the issues. The juxtapositioning of her mother as a depression baby of lower class white people scraping out an existence on the prairie and the woman her mother became as opposed to the woman that the "pretty" cousin became were very interesting. The tenacious questioning of June's friend about abandonment issues was hard hitting. While June was very evasive in the questioning, her theraphy obviously worked. It is clear that June is sorry for the bad feelings she had with Peggy and does not want to waste losing her relationship with her mother.

This documentary is a wonderful example of someone who has moved beyond the pop culture of victimization as a rationale for behavior. Each person could have been a victim of racism, classism, and many other "isms". The fact is...they chose to live their lives in the fullest available scope.

This is a celebration of the fact that we are human. We make mistakes and don't always understand why things happen but if we seek compassion, understanding, and personal tolerance from those we love and treat them with equal compassion, understanding and personal tolerance, life can be bountiful.

Whatever Norma did, or didn't do, June has a wonderful education, sense of self, and has obviously been surrounded with strong, loving, people in her life. Norma, too, seems to be a wonderful person with great insight and sensibility for what is real. His vision of racial inequities in this country are accurate and insightful. Bravo June...thanks for sharing your story. It is a story of our culture and our times for the past fifty years and gives hope for the future!!
New York, NY

This was a bit more than your typical mother/daughter story or the power of bad parenting. What it so vividly portrayed was the power of white skin in this society. White skin will allow one to slip into the Black world, enjoy the warmth and excite ment and to slip right out when it is no longer convenient to you. It will allow you to study the genius of Black entertainers, co-opt it, and take it back to the white world and make yourself a lot of money. It allows you untold mobility in this world, to move about and live anywhere and any how you want free of preceived notions or preceptions of your value. With white skin, in this society, you have one leg up on others of color to make mistakes and start over unscathed. White skin allows you a much greater chance to make your dreams come true.

And people still don't understand why Black folks are so angry . .

Oakland, CA

I had to search out the web site for this program and add my thoughts.

Like many others, I stumbled into this powerful and engaging presentation. I also want to add my applause and good wishes for June and her family. I am renewed in my belief that it is the family that comes first, no matter what the cards that life has dealt. I was so pleased to see the interchange between June and her mother show that through the pain of their lives, they were able to show their love for each other. Isn't that what really matters?

Best to all involved. Hope the healing I was lucky enough to witness continues through your lives.
Jim Nash
Urbana, OH

I am about your age, a white male and a supporter of Newt Gingrich and the Republican party. I belong to a country club, think the newsmedia has a very liberal tilt (even though my wife is a news anchor for one of the networks) and agree with Rush Limbaugh about 99% of the time. I just finished watching "Secret Daughter" and wanted to say to you Bravo! It was not only a fascinating story but the fact that it was your story and your production and your interviews made it all that more remarkable. My guess is that both your Grandmothers and your father are all up in Heaven together smiling with pride.

June's story was compelling while protraying a personal triumph/tragedy. I question June's decision to declare herself as a black person though. I think the an important step towards diminishing racial boundries is to acknowledge mixed race individuals as such. In doing so, the qualifier of race begins to loose its meaning. However, socity forces the choice on to anyone who can be perceived as having the slightest characteristics of the black race to be defined as such. This just perpetuates the prejudices.

Secret Daughter was an excellent documentary. I have a daughter who is multi racial. Her father and I have always made sure that race was never an issue with her. I am ordering the transcripts for her to have. I think she should see how hard it was in the not to distant past to have a relationship like we have. My heart goes out to June's mother, I know she did the best she could in the environment she was in, God Bless her.
Ruth Fletcher
Ahwatukee, AZ

I was fascinated with your journey. It was so nice to see African Americans portrayed as intelligent, thoughtful people who also grew up in perfect little neighborhoods with nice homes and varied interests and also showed the diversity of all skin colors and hair types. The ususal NETWORK programs all portray African Americans as either coming off of drugs or drug addicted, living in run down areas, & killing each other. African Americans are very diverse, you cannot place us all in one group. It was wonderful to see the TRUE picture on TV, even if everyone didn't see it. I sure wish this could be put on NETWORK TV, but I know it won't happen, Too Many Truths in your story. Thank you!
Michelle Nevels

I just watched your 11/26/96 broadcast on our local PBS station, KCET, and have a few comments to make. I don't think I've *ever* seen anything quite like this on television before. Can I say that I loved it? No I can't.

At times Ms. Cross's composure seemed superhuman. This woman has talent. She took, in the best tradition of print journalism, a personal story and made it into a window on our whole culture. The scenes it provided were clear, familiar and yet still shocking in a personal way. She made a public "problem" into a personal reality: Us and them.

I found myself talking back to my TV several times during the broadcast. This is a good sign. I was so involved with her life for one hour that at times I had to respond, even to an empty room. I think I understand a few things about race relations much better now. That's rare for me. I've often felt frustrated by this topic in the past.

Did I love the story she told us? No I did not. I just hope she keeps on telling stories like it. I know I will keep on watching them. Thank you Ms. Cross. Thank you very much.

As a white woman with a black son and a white daughter I am quite familiar with the racial attitudes in America. I have, over the years, tried to comprehend the outright hatred of whites against blacks. At the same time I have lived through some of the pain inflicted upon some of my African American relatives.I have not found an answer to the problem. June Cross has shown great courage in her quest for truth. I think that ultimately a person to person contact is the only way to healing the wounds of this country. To Frontline "congratulations for standing by her side." Gisela Foster Campbell, CA Dear FRONTLINE,
Thanks for sharing your story. I was enthralled and enriched. I grieve for the little girl, June, whose mother gave her the message that she was not enough- not light enough, not white enough-to become her real, living daughter.I also felt tremendous frustration that June's mother would not say, "Screw You" to the establishment so she might have an open, loving relationship with her daughter. (I understand that given June's mother's background that would have a big leap -that does not ease my anger.) I also thought it interesting June, that you laughed at some of the most painful and intense moments in the dialogue.If you didn't laugh you would cry? Your story will stay with me.
Tempe, AZ

Wow! This was a Frontline unlike any other Frontline I've ever seen. I was spellbound the entire two hours. I've always wanted to know what it must be like to have grown-up a bi-racial child at a time when we were not as accepting of bi-racial marriages as we are today. I know that some of the commenters believe that things haven't changed much in four decades, but I think we need to have perspective. We haven't yet reached the "Promised Land" in race relations, that Martin Luther King had in mind in his 1963 speech, but we're well on our way. Our path has its zigs and zags, like the forty year march of the Jews through the Sinai Desert to the Promised Land, or like a sail boat tacking back and forth on its course. June Cross's film was both a personal saga and a work of art, documenting the culture and entertainment world of the 50's and 60's. I was sorry to see the story end, because I know there is a lot more to say. I also know that it's a "work in progress" as is June's attempt to gain some understanding and acceptance of what happened and to get on with her life. It took lots of courage for her to produce this and for her mother to open up in front of Frontline's cameras and tell her story for all of us to hear, even those virtual folks in Palm Springs that she imagined as passing judgment on her. The lesson here is that most of "what we have to fear is fear itself." Once we get over the fears and prejudices that we all carry around with us and which prevent us from being open and genuine with both ourselves and with others, we can really start to fly. So, in a sense, this film helped us to free ourselves of some of the thoughts that "shackle" us, as well as helping June to free herself. This show informed and helped us deal with many of our long-held beliefs. That's why it was a Frontline like no other. I hope that you will continue to produce new programs for Frontline that explore new avenues. This continues to be my favorite PBS program.
Sacramento, CA

I really enjoyed watching "Secret Daughter" last night. It was most interesting watching June gather information and not hurt her mother or her step father's career. I don't think I will look at Jerry Lewis as the comic king anymore. I think June's mother did the right thing but should have given her daughter a better understanding of the reasons why at a younger age.

I wonder how many other "secret daughters" are out there now. I wonder how many have less information to start a search for their past. I wonder how many other "secret daughters" were aborted because their parents were not up to the pressures of the 40's and 50's. I know this would make a great book and major motion picture. I hope June can get these tributes for herself and her parents.

Peace to you,

My wife and I watched Frontline yesterday evening and found "Secret Daughter" an engaging, certainly sad, but most awakening documentary. I had never heard of Jimmie Cross, but was so glad to get to know him last night. As a youngster, I was a fan of Jerry Lewis, as well as Larry Storch, and it was very interesting to meet the godfather of a style of humor I grew to love.

Getting to know Norma, Peggy, and the rest of June Cross's family widened the scope of the program. For my wife and I, the racial gap in this country was narrowed for those two hours. I wish there were a forum where we, as persons of different races, could learn from each other as much as was learned from "Secret Daughter."

Note to June Cross: Excellent work, June. Thank you for your courage in presenting a story so personal, and at times so difficult. It is clear that Stump's talent lives on in you. I can see his smile.
Colorado Springs, CO

June Cross's story taught me something other than might be expected: "Fast ladies" and "fast men," no matter what the color, can be blamed for originating all sorts of problems, including June's.

June never mentioned that (or hs she learned ,yet) that unmarried affairs - the type that do not lead to committal, which are most) lead to all sorts of illigitimacy. Illigitimacy of mind, body, soul, and spirit are a few of the repercussions that are born from, as we used to call it, wild living.

Now June is forwarding the legacy of illigitimacy by traveling with her "partner" (Maldrin?) into that same territory through which her mom journeyed: Illegitimacy.

Perhaps June will yearn less for the Stump and more for the "Tree" of life.
Akron, OH

June Cross had DELIVERED a major gift to us. Her courage, as she dares to look into the rear view mirror with thoughs sitting in the back seat is inspiring. The balance she demonstrated along with her opening her own 'Kimona' touched me. I did not feel like an 'on looker', I felt the strength she had working through some very painful experiences. I would just like to add...

June you are 100% who you are, not 1/2 Black, 1/2 white. I believe you're a whole person who has embraced the Black experience. Reclaiming all your heritage is very important in healing. Thank you for letting America see you and gain a rare insight into the evils of racism that linger today. Thank you for showing how everyone is affected Black, White, all of us...and maybe most importantly that we are all connected...forever. Your survival and saneness inspires us all.
Farmington, MI

What an interesting story! I had known for many years that in the south white women who gave birth to mulatto children often gave them to black families to rear, but I did not know that this practice was followed in the North as well. It is truly fitting that PBS should document this practice, and do it so movingly.
Chicago, IL

A riveting profile of courage, honesty and warmth. I couldn't turn it off and go to bed at my normal time. June Cross's interview technique alone was worth watching the program, and the cinematography and editing was remarkable for sensing what should be shown and how long it should stay on the screen. In all, certainly a prize-winner!
Winston-Salem, NC

Only PBS would and could bring us such a moving and wonderful work. June Cross - you have such courage and spirit to share this most intimate part of your life with everyone who watches public television. Have always loved Frontline, but now find that this is one of the two most important pieces ever done by Frontline (the other was on abortion). The irony is that Frontline and June have brought us a story that is quite personal, but are likely to change the course of our lives and our perspectives of others. are very, very, very special!!! I hope that my cousins (who are multiracial) will see this show. (Also, just love your aunt from Idaho...she is something special!)
Stone Mountain, GA

Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou, Your show was very moving, touching, almost made me cry. I related to some of the situations like being light complexioned , like myself. I loved the history of african- american culture and entertainment back then. It took a strong woman like yourself to be able to forgive and not to forget, but to see the good in the situation. Would you have been better off if you stayed with your mother, or the way you were raised? I too felt maybe your mother did do the right thing because she seemed to be caught-up in the race\class thing at that time and maybe if she kept you, things could have been worse for you. I give her much credit in her honesty despite the pain of being truthful to you.

I wish I could meet you personally to thankyou for an EXCELLENT piece of work. I know you worked extremely hard producing your story. With the talent you showed doing this, there should'nt be anything to stand in your way. As a black man I enjoy to see our black women excelling in their carreers. Please, don't let this be the only time this show airs.

This is what I call quality television!
Thanks Again,
Robert D Melton
Washington DC

I have watched Frontline for years and have often presented previous shows to students enrolled in my college courses. I believe Secret Daughter was one of the most profound shows I have seen on Frontline. I was transfixed until 2 am watching the show. June Cross has created an autobiographical expose that eloquently demonstrates the complexity of race and ethnicity issues in the United States. It is often difficult to relate all the issues that accompany discussions of physical characteristics (i.e., race) and their relation to adoption of particular ethnicities. I salute June for her wonderful demonstration of how these notions influence and permeate the lives of real people, and how such social categories limit the choices one can make.

Cynthia Willis Esqueda, Ph.D.

June Cross' auto-documentary was fittingly disturbing and enthralling. Her interviews with her mother were painfully candid and real, and the cross-section of individual and social forces Cross highlighted wove a complex and very human tapestry. Congratulations to Cross and kudos to Frontline for giving us quality programming.
Patricia Feito, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
Barry University/ACE

What an amazing story! Secret Daughter reached out and grabbed me. I have never had a story leave me with such a loss for words. I belive that the world needs more people like Ms Cross. If this story does for her, what she had hoped it would do, then may she have the peace that she is looking for. If the story touched other people as I have been, then may she have the courage and strength to keep up the good fight. Thank You.
Calvin Allison
Conway, AR

Persons like June Cross and myself have been volunteered to be pioneers in a process that will, eventually, end all reasons for racial separation. We've been thrust into such positions and are confronted with pressures most folks could never relate to. However, societal evolution has put us at the vortex of the most divisive difference our nation has faced and will continue to face for many years to come. Thank God, such situations make such strong, smart and honest people like June Cross and myself to lead our world away from the great color divide. June Cross has my highest compliments for her family truth which we all must deal with and cure.
Kevin Harmon
Redlands, CA

A most wonderful presentation of a complex topic! Thanks for having the honesty and courage it took to present your story. We are fortunate that you have a family that has been able to talk about itself in such an open manner. I hope that your film will be made available to schools and other environments that encourage discussion; I know that I have enjoyed the conversations that this has sparked. Normally I support the "Kill Your Television" bumper sticker but every so often a program such as this comes by and causes me to feel grateful that I have not done it.
Larry Fahnoe
Minneapolis, MN

Thank you for sharing your story. I grew up in New Jersey about the time your father tour the chitterling circuit. Specifically at the ADAMS Theater in Newark, NJ. Having grown up in Orange, NJ and witnessed many interacial couples who maintained their secret love from the general public, I can appreciate the trauma which one undergoes as s/he searches for his or her real family. Your story like that of James McBride "Color of Water" are the stories that eventually will greatly assist this country in understanding the depths to which racism reaches. God bless and keep you always. May God also bless your mother for coming to the forefront and acknowledging her beautiful daughter.
Col James A. Manning
Seattle, WA

I thought Secret Daughter was fantastic. I was riveted - congrats to June Cross. I am a black American, have spent the last 14 years in Southern Africa; have a white husband and two biracial children. Who are not "browning up" like June did! I wanted June's mother to come out and be a hero and fight the system. I still wish she had done that; had kept June and told everyone to just go to hell if they couldn't deal with it. I guess, though, that part of June's story is her coming to grips with the fact that her mother either wouldn't or couldn't do that. No Superwoman ending. That's one of the things I liked best about the film - its refusal to simplify everything into Hollywood terms. I'd like to congratulate June for her bravery.
Terri Barnes
Narragansett, RI

Thank you and Frontline for your secret. And talking about that secret! I've lived in Atlanta, Ga. all my life and have always thought that the key to understanding one another is to listen to one another. We white folks don't like to listen, or at least it seems that way sometimes. If you ever want to do another "lets talk about it" segment, let me know. I'd like to talk about what it's like to grow up white, in the south during the civil rights era....looking....watching....wondering what was going to happen to the world as we know it. And feeling good about it because of a man named Martin Luther King, Jr. I was proud I lived in the same city! From the same State. Gosh! Does that really mean a white man can look up to a black man? But admitting it...that's another story.
Atlanta, GA

I understand June's reference to herself as black since, historically, that has been the way we (American society) have labeled those of "mixed race". But, can't we get beyond this practice as well as this concept? How many of us would consider ourselves culturally mixed, though perhaps not racially mixed (the most obvious form)? I believe that healing would occur if racial differences were acknowledged but not exaggerated. June's comment about social status differences vs. racial differences upon meeting her Philadelphia relative was right on. Thanks June Cross for such a thought-provoking piece. Please do more!
Denver, CO

Your program, "Secret Daughter," was extraordinary. It was very moving and courageous, and depicted the intricate losses, co-optation, and pain of racism as I have never seen it before.

It was simultaneously personal and individual to a family, while tracing their connections within the functioning of professional cummunities of performers on two coasts and across a sixty+-year timespan. This interweaving, which was also played out to its amazing and unexpected conclusions, made this program deeply memorable and uniquely thought-provoking.

Thank you for producing and presenting this important documentary/artwork/lesson. As an elementary school teacher, I am particularly appreciative of its value--both as a lesson never to be forgotten, and as a validation of the lives of the innumerable "Junes" that may have thought they too were alone in the circumstances of their lives.

Trina Porte
Minneapolis, MN

I just wanted to thank you for a FANTASTIC program. I can't stop thinking about it. The bubble bath story that June sites as the moment in which she began to think of herself as black continues to haunt me. One reason for the shows success, and in fact the primary reason for its success with me was June's endearing personality. I think her mother did the right thing in giving her up. June never would have developed into such a charming young woman in her mother's world. God bless "aunt Paula" (I think that was her name); June's second mother. I would also like to ask you to air the program again--my mother wasn't home last night, and thanks to my constant jabbering she is now dying to see it.
Kathy-Anne Lewis
Brooklyn, NY

Thank you so very much in sharing your story with the world. I know it was a diffucult subject, but those that watched, also learned. I will share this program with my niece, and nephew who are biracial, and no nothing of their white history. One other thing, we all learn to forgive. It makes us a stronger person.
Valerie J. Smith
Aurora, Co

A general constructive criticism:

I think that programs dealing with race continue to affirm that blacks, asians, or other adaptaions of humans with distinct features are in fact "races". This continues to be scientifically inaccurate. There is no more significance to skin color than there is to hair color. These differences arose as a result of geographic isolation. A prominent anthropologist asserts that it takes as little as 5,000 years for a group of people living in a geographically isolated situation to develop distinct features in the population. It is probably that Americans are creating a unique "look" as they live and mix together. From that point of view, this pursuit of "black" blood in prominent families seems to ve fairly futile and of only marginal interest. If you study history you will find there was a lot of "mixing" as the moors conquered Spain (and it was then the blacks who were in the position of power then) and many other civilizations of darker features ruled over others. Looking back at our geneologies we can find that most of us have mixed blood in us. Most people in Europe are "mixed". Most people in America and most "blacks" in america are "mixed". Going back far enough, wether you believe in creation or in evolution, we all come from the same pair of individuals, so as they say, we are all related. But we all share in that original sin, of greed, I believe and self interest.

This futire pusuit of "color' in a family downplays the importance of economic class in creating these separations. June Cross could never have been successful if her mother did not do what she did and who paid for her Harvard education? It seems to me that somewhere there was money helping her cross those lines and that money, posibly the money her mom made, played a very important role in her development and education. The issue of what money passed hands and went to her "adoptive" family never came up. It was avoided. Why?

Her relatives in the black community that were left behind did not have these opportunities. So, the issue was always money, and not race. It has been money since time begun and it continues to be money that separates us.
Yonkers, NY

I thought the show was very dull. June said something about "all white people" see blacks in a certain light, she is 1/2 white therefore according to her own racest statement 1/2 of the time, she must also see blacks the same way us whites do. Imagine if I, a white male, said "all blacks...." on a television show, I'd be labeled a racest, where does June fit in? Maybe when you do another special on your own employees again, we'll find out eh?
Burbank CA

June Cross's autobiograhpical documentary, Secret Daughter, had me riveted to the television. I happened upon her story while I was channel surfing but I caught approx 90 minutes of the story.

I ran the gamut of emotions as the story unfolded. I admire her strength, resilience and ability to come through all she has experienced. This has to be one of the most touching documentaries I have ever seen.

To June:
In my 45 years on the planet, I've never written to anyone about anything I've seen on TV. I guess that's why I'm having a hard time expressing via e-mail what I felt after watching your story. Secret Daughter was a very moving emotional experience for me. Very rarely does television make me react like this! I'm still sitting here in awe! Wow!!
Reggie Tyler
New York, NY

Thank you very much for your excellent work on "Secret Daughter". I would like to especially thank June for sharing so much of herself and her story with us.

Your program gave me a lot to think about: which, I've noticed, is a rare and precious gift. I had noticed how much racism divides people from each other; who couldn't. However, I hadn't ever stopped to think about how racism could divide a mother from her own child, a child from her own history. Never had I heard a voice express so clearly how racism denies us what is best in us: our ability to communicate, to celebrate our distinctness with one another, to listen. I began to think of all the talent and love and wisdom that was ignored because it came packaged in an inconvenient color.

Perhaps most striking, however, is the tone of hope that surfaces throughout the piece. It is a hope that sprouts and grows from our continuing national conversation about ourselves, each other, and our continuing struggle with racism. I believe, deep down in my heart, that as we speak and listen with each other, we will defeat and discard racism, which is our shared burden and disgrace.

Thank you for speaking so eloquently and meaningfully to me tonight.
Los Angeles, CA

First of all, what is Caryn James's [New York Times]problem in her review of the piece? Doesn't she understand that different people use different coping mechanisms to deal with trauma within their lives. I thought that Ms. Cross laughed a little too much throughout the story, but I also thought that she did this to keep from crying. Secondly, I don't think that elements of the show were repetitious as Ms. James says with regards to Jerry Lewis"s comments. Whites need to be reminded again and again that their "kind" not only robbed Africa of resources, but they've also continued to steal from our culture. I'm currently an anthropology student at Temple University in Philly and I'm amazed by this soul searching that white America is presently going through. I don't recall such attitudes in the dominant society, at least not in Indiana where I got a Master's degree back in 1982. Maybe there's hope for us after all. NOT! At least not within the next half a millenium or so, unless humanity faces some extraterrestrial.
Philadelphia, PA

To FRONTLINE and June Cross,
My husband and I were riveted to the TV set watching this poignant documentary. Many kudos to June Cross for publically airing her odyssey. This was a moving and bitter-sweet story. I believe the most chilling and telling moment was when Ms Cross' mother pointed out the differences between blacks and whites indicating that blacks aare more accepting of other blacks, while whites are suspicious of other whites and need to get to know them first. I am a white woman who never really thought about this before. I know Ms. Cross has got to still be hurting inside more than she indicated on this beautifully narrated and photographed special. Even though she has achieved and graduated from Harvard, I believe her family heritage was gnawing at her emotionally. I hope this broadcast and the positive reaction it generated does a lot to heal this lovely woman!

Please rebroadcast this show and let us know when.
Elkins Park, PA

I can't thank you enough June Cross for being brave, honest, and caring to let us see and hear this complex and compelling story. I understand and have experienced the difficulties of being bi-racial. You have brought the level of the conversation on race to a new high in challenging those who watch this documentary to examine their own views of blacks and whites in America but also others views and our own views on those of us that are both. I applaud your strength in being in front of the camera because I'm sure that was the toughest part. Let me suggest another book for your listing of readings: Black, White, Other by Lise Funderburg, Morrow & Co. I am old enough to always wonder if we will ever see a day in our lifetime when white America doesn't see us as black first then human beings.
Cleveland, OH

I watched "Secret Daughter" last night by happenstance. While pausing another show that had been taped, we saw June Cross's moving personal documentary. We stayed up late, very late for my unbeleving eight year old, to watch to the end.

Near the end I found June's comment about her father that he was"born a generation too early" to be very profound. Our society still struggles with issue of race. But, the issues of today are very different form the issues when June was a child. We still read about, and experience, racial consciousness. A black sounding voice getting less help on a telephone than a white one... Yet, June's father can pay, dance, entertain and work wherever an audience wants him. Also, if June were born today would she have had the same journey? Would her mother have felt compelled to have June raised in a black family? I do not think this would be so today. Perhaps, June, too, was born a generation too early. Her ault life has allowed her into white society. She has a good education and a good job. But, her childhood was segregated. This may not be so today.

Barriers still exist today. Some of these are not necessarily racial. June felt this when she returned to Philadelphia. She observed that class divisions can be just as strong as racial divisions.

June, thank you for a very moving and provacative piece of work. Perhaps your story, as well as your bloodline, will be a portent for a less divided America.
Skokie, IL

Your program was a disturbing exploration of how guilt, shame and racism continue to distort our individual and collective relationships. It would be so easy to condemn June's mother but as the program pointed out, human behavior is usually driven by fear not love. It takes some of us an awfully long time to grow into our humanity. We are in desperate need of forgiveness and healing but to get to that place, we must first embrace the individual and collective truth about ourselves, a task that we are unwilling to undertake. In the meantime, our only hope is to continue the conversation and pray for the courage and vision to help us transform ourselves, our families and our nation. Your program underlined the healing power of love and forgiveness. Thank you.

I deeply appreciate your effort to produce shows that inform your viewers about important realities. This is so helpful when most media productions are either propaganda or presented from a highly biased point of view. I am 45 years old and gained more understanding of the race issue in America from Secret Daughter than from all the other television coverage I have seen in the last 30 years. Keep up the good work.
Boulder, CO

Just had to write to say how moved I was by your documentary. I work as a documentary editor in San Francisco, which is just to say I see alot of documentaries. I was riveted to the TV; I wouldn't get up to go to the bathroom for fear I'd miss something!! So well crafted, so touching and warm, I love the way it unfolded, and the honesty of everyone interviewed. Your mother should be very proud of you and of herself for being so brave. I've worked on and viewed several documentaries on race relations and I'm always most moved by the bi-racial interviewees. I find the stories so intimate because the struggle is so internalized and that intimacy supersedes any political, social, or historical theories of race conflicts bypassing the brian of the viewer and cutting straight to the heart, where, in my opinion, the largest change can occur in the shortest amount of time. Will the film have a life beyond Frontline? I hope to get to see it again and reccommend it to friends. I actually could see it have a theatrical release- well, here in doc-friendly SF anyway, the Roxie theatre for example. I wish you great luck. Thank you so much.
Heidi Jane Rahlmann

Dear FRONTLINE and June Cross,
I thought that your show was exceedingly well done. I stated watcing it without planning to, and when I saw the subject matter I thought I wouldn't watch long -- that I already knew it all. But, I thought it was so well done, that you managed to build and build the story into a very powerful telling. Every character was beautifully developed. I found myself disliking and loving the parents, and ending up with a great caring for the entire family, yet a feeling of great poignancy for the effects of racism on each one of you.

For five years in my 20s I lived in a predominantly black culture. Later I had a foster "son" for a few years who was black. There were many lessons learned through all of that, some very difficult. So, your story was even more compelling to me personally.

Mostly, I want to thank you for exposing your personal feelings, and those of your family, to the rest of us. I hope that many, many people watched the show, because I think it was one of the best I've ever seen that potentially could develop empathy in the viewers as to the effects of racism on the happiness of individual human beings.

I hope our PBS station will run the story again. Thanks again!
Judy Garvey

I sat glued to the tv last evening as the story of June Cross unfolded before me. I want her to know what courage it took to research her background and to display it before us in living detail. Not many of us would have the ability to forgive our Mother as June as done. Perhaps this reflects the moral and ethical upbringing of her adoptive parents. June, you will be a healthier person for doing what you have done for yourself. It is also a "hidden" gift for your mother, I wonder if she realizes that you have given her freedom from her secret.

Thank You for your story and I wish you every happiness in life! You appeared to be a warm, giving, loving human being and someone I would like to know. Best of everything to you and I will certainly watch for other productions by June Cross in relation to FRONTLINE, which happens to be one of my favorite tv shows.
Zephyrhills, FL

Secret Daughter was one of the most moving programs that I have ever seen. I am so glad that I found the program while switching the channels last night. Once I started watching it I couldn't leave my seat. June Cross was fantastic, warm, intelligent, forgiving, thoughtful and so many other things. Her mother was extremely brave and I applaud her courage and openness. I cried during some segments of the program. I laughed, sighed, and felt a deep emotion about how a small child and mother must have felt to undergo the tremendous social pressures of the 50's, 60's, 70's and even now. I hope June Cross is nominated for whatever media awards there are: Documentary, Pulitzer, etc. Hope to see alot more of June Cross's work. She is a brilliant talent. We need more people like her on public and paid TV.
Honolulu, Hawaii

I found June Cross' story of her life compelling on both a personal and an academic level. Personally, she carried me right along with her on her quest for identity. She acknowledges that she was lucky enough to be surrounded by loving surrogate parents, but that cannot completely shield a person from the pain inflicted by an absent parent(s).

As a scholar, a graduate student in Folklore and American Studies, I was captivated by the way she crafted her story - drawing her family tree not just from her biological parents but also her step-father, acknowledging his place in her life. The story was skillfully drawn and executed - keeping my interest for the whole two hours. She did a wonderful job of personal narrative, as well as tracing the entertainment industry, both black and white.

I was especially drawn to the parallel story of her half-sister and how their lives mirrored each other.

Job well done!!!
Bloomington, IN

Thank you so much again for yet another excellent program. What can I say I was glued to my TV for almost two hours and enjoyed every minute of it. As an African living in the United States, I have always wanted to hear first hand from a person that understands both sides. I admire June for her strength and all the crew at FRONTLINE that made this possible. As June pointed out in the latter part of the show, the gap between blacks and whites are enormous. I believe programs like this are first steps that will make this gap closer.
Ayalkebet Shiferaw
Minneapolis, MN

I thought June's attempt to reconcile with Norma, her Mom, was overdone and repetitive. It would have been an interesting hour, or even hour and a half program; but two hours was too long. After an hour and a half, I found myself looking at my watch, wondering when it would be over. I don't want to hurt June's feelings, to her it was the most important subject in her life and worthy of several more hours, to her. But not to me. Otherwise, June certainly did her homework; the subject was certainly well researched. I'd give it a B-, because it was too long.
Eagle River, WI

Congratulations to both June and Norma for their courage in examining family secrets and pain. I was engrossed for the two hours, and thought about the program off and on all day. How much richer I feel for having seen their story. Hooray for their perseverance, and for their determination to love each other through the years... despite the horrors that society imposed on them. I'm so glad to have learned about Jimmy Cross. And the image of him kissing his baby daughter lingers. And congratulations Frontline for setting the example of what quality television can be. E.O.
Richmond, VA

Dear June, Excuse the familiarity, but after I've spent two hours with you and your family, it gives me courage. I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your film and the dilemmas of every member of your family. And this is not because I have a similar story--we were born in the same year, and have the same historical references, but that's about all--but because you made me care about all of you. Tell your mother she did good--finally saying some of the things you needed her to say--regardless of what some of her "friends" might think. There are many of us out here who will support her. I hope she can draw strength from that. Good luck in your future conversations. I hope there are many more.
San Jose, CA

Read more reactions

Reactions to the Show | Parenting | Multiracial/Interracial Relationships | Share your Own Story

discussions | blurred racial lines | audio stories | june's family tree | bi-racial portraits | how to search family trees | readings | reactions

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation