The heart of Texas. A century after his ancestors were freed from slavery, Spike Lee meets his relatives. And not all of his family were slaves.
We know that our American slave history included the horrendous abuse and rape of slaves; the possibility of white and black Americans being related today is not a surprise. In Lee’s ancestry, we learn that his great-great-great grandmother, Mathilde, was a mulatto in the 1860’s. Mathilde worked in the plantation house of her slaveowners as a cook. As a mulatto, history indicates that Lee’s slave ancestor may have been the daughter of the white slaveowner.
Witnessing Spike Lee’s journey from his New York home to the deep South, I could not help but admire his life work: chronicling the African American experience in film. Do the Right Thing may be one of my favorite movies, and as a teenager growing up in the Midwest with little experience with non-Asian or non-White heritage, Lee’s groundbreaking film opened my eyes to the racism in the rest of America. I’ve always been impressed by Lee’s artistry, integrity, and commitment to fighting racism. His appearance last night on the television show, Who Do You Think You Are?, again shows his thoughtfulness and curiosity.