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Re: Tracing Persons Passing for White

I read with empathy your story about your mother, Glenda. My father's cousin had the same situation as your mother. Her father, my grandfather's brother, went to Detroit and passed all of his life. He finally acknowledged her as a daughter when she was about 21, though she had never taken his name. He also promised to put her in his will as she was his only child and to receive his property, etc. He was a prominant banker. It never happened.
Being the daughter of a man who decided to leave Pa, move west and pass for white in 1950, It has been an experience. I do agree, though, that it is sad and I know my father felt a great loss within him that he could never share or discuss. I know my father now, after his death, much better than I did in the 41 years of my life before.
As a "white" person entering a family of black relatives, I can only say that I am growing to love them, am grateful that they have accepted me as family, and have learned and will continue to learn much, but, it would have been better for my sister and I if we had grown up with our father's family. It would have been better for my father if he had maintained contact with his family. But, yet, in the 50's and 60's, and even into the 70's, it would definitely have come with it's own set of problems. Still, we would have had a sense of belonging that we definitely did not have as we were not even allowed to even ask about my dad's family.
My father, or it may have been my mother's doing, changed his birth date on church records etc. My mother said he didn't have a birth certificate. She hasn't talked to me in the two years since I discovered my family. I don't resent her. I feel for the angst she must have inside, being unable and unwilling to broach the subject and finally "come out of hiding." She married a black man. He was a good man. He loved and took care of his children. I am sure part of his reason for passing, probably the largest part in later years, was not wanting his children to experience the things he did growing up in Virginia and again in Pittsburgh as a young man.
On a lighter note, the most difficult thing about doing genealogy for black folk is not being able to trace them before 1870. My ancestors seem to have just fallen off of the map.

Messages In This Thread

Tracing Persons Passing for White
Re: Tracing Persons Passing for White
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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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