Much of our attention this past week has been focused on Boston. The Boston Marathon bombings which occurred this past Monday shut Boston down in their effort to find the bombing suspects. While I am thankful for a speedy conclusion to that disaster, I have also spent much of my week trying to research my heritage. Harvard University professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is one of many bright spots in the Greater Boston area and I remembered a show he aired a few years ago.
Growing up in a mixed race environment that centered primarily on African-American traditions, there were also the stories, told by my great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother, of the Creek, Blackfoot and Cherokee in our family. The Germans (great-great-grandmother) that immigrated to Illinois told the story of a Creek Indian that married an aunt; while the black side (my great-grandfather) told stories of Blackfoot and Cherokee. As children, we all listened raptly about horses being ridden into bars, crazy Indians that would cut you before talking to you and a people that always stayed close to nature. The stories were endless.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., aired African American Lives in 2006 on PBS, where he traced the backgrounds of several well-known celebrities, to include Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock and Tina Turner, and where there true lineage leads. In the segment below, you will hear that much of what African-Americans heard about their Native American Indian lineage just is not what it seems. When I went back to watch the segment, I begin re-digging into my own family’s background and heritage. I wonder now, if those were tall tales that we heard as children, or if there is substance to any of it.
I am very happy that the citizens of Boston are now safe. Boston is a city of great diversity and can teach us a lot. And so we do this remembering Boston University grad student Lu Lingzi of China (呂令子); Martin Richard, a sweet Irish-American 8-year old that advised us not to hurt each other; Krystle Campbell, restaurant manager from Medford, Massachusetts and; MIT police officer Sean Collier who died protecting the students of MIT. Peace.