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January 29th, 2012
05:34 PM ET

Don Lemon: Legacy of 'one drop' rule inspires search for family history

Editor's note: Don Lemon anchors CNN Newsroom during weekend prime-time and serves as a correspondent across CNN's U.S. programming. He is the author of the memoir "Transparent."

This is  final installment of  a three-part series about the 1ne Drop Project. Read Don Lemon's column, "It only takes one drop," and Yaba Blay's column, "What does Blackness look like?"

The video above contains offensive language. Viewer discretion is advised.

By Don Lemon, CNN

You never know from where inspiration will come.

I am often envious of my friends who can recite stories about ancestors that have been handed down through generations. I can’t do that. As a descendant of slavery in America, that hasn't felt possible for me. Truthfully, I didn’t think about it much until a few weeks ago, after I was asked by CNN’s In America team to write about the impact of a mixed racial background on my life, the idea that "one drop" of black blood makes you black.

In that article, I wrote about how my aunt and grandmother in Louisiana often were mistaken for white. I wrote about the extremes they went to in order to protect their husbands, who were black, from beatings by white men, or worse.

As I began to write the article, I sent a text message to my mother asking that she email photos of my aunt and grandmother. She sent me what she had, but asked why I wanted them. I told her I’d call to explain once I got home that evening.

When I finished the draft of the article, I zipped off a copy to her via email. A few minutes later, as I was driving home from work, my phone rang. When my mother began to tell me the stories of my aunt and grandmother, I had to pull over in a parking lot to take it all in. Some of it I knew. Much of it I didn’t.

My mother said, “Don, your aunt and grandmother really are quintessential ‘one drop’ Americans.”

“Why, mom?” I asked.

“I know you overheard some of this as a child, but your aunt’s father was a white man,” she said. “Your grandmother’s father was a white man.”

“Yes,” I said, “I remember now.”

Lemon's aunt and grandmother were often mistaken for white.

My aunt, my grandmother's eldest daughter and the one often mistaken for white, was the product of rape, my mother told me. My grandmother worked for a white family in a small Louisiana town in the 1920s. According to my mom and other family members, the man of the house raped my grandmother. She was barely a teenager at the time.

When her grandfather found out about the rape, my mother said, he picked up a shotgun intending to kill the man. But his siblings held him down long enough for his anger to subside, long enough to talk him out of it. A good thing, according to my mother - the man who raped my grandmother was also the town sheriff.

It wasn't the first time it had happened in my family. My grandmother's father also was white. Her mother died during childbirth, and in 1919 Louisiana, it was all but impossible for a white man to raise a black child. So, her grandparents took her in.

Confused? I am too.

But that's what inspired me: I want to trace my ancestry. I’ve reached out to an expert, Henry Louis Gates Jr., to guide me through it.

Wish me luck.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Don Lemon.

Posted by
Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • History • How we look
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. SteveyC76

    Questions for anti-whites:

    Why do you only push mass immigration +"assimilation" = genocide on white countries?

    Why do you pretend forcing demographic elimination on white people is not genocide under international law?

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

    January 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. S. Peppy Bennett

    Mr Lemon, hello and thank you for covering this subject matter. As a New Orleans, Louisiana native and a seventh generation New Orleans Creole I have often wondered who, what and how my family lived through the often struggling times in Louisiana in the 1700, 1800, and early 1900's.
    Good Luck and I hope you learn more authenticated information about your rich family history. Understanding and knowing my Louisiana roots has been a dream of mine since I was a child.
    S. Peppy Bennett (http://twitter.com/PeppyBennett)

    January 31, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Amy

    Good luck!

    January 31, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. CHILI PEPPER

    @ ROBERT YOU HAVE ISSUES GO GET SOME HELP IF ITS NOT TO LATE

    January 31, 2012 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. CHILI PEPPER

    WE ARE ALL HEINZ 57 THATS WHAT MAKES US SO INTERESTING

    January 31, 2012 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ada

    My dear go ahead and find out about yourself.God help u

    January 31, 2012 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. !!Virginia!!

    Good for you, Don Lemon. My sister is researching family history-we are Southern as far back as I know-I hope that it doesn't include any history of slavery-I don't come from "old Southern money". If there were slaves on the farms back then, my ancestors worked right beside them!!

    January 31, 2012 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
    • !!Virginia!!

      I think that any "white" Southern American that can trace family history back to 1800's pretty much has to be a decsendant of many races and cultures – I hope so anyway!!

      January 31, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
      • !!Virginia!!

        I never even heard of the "1 drop rule" until I read this article-I thought all blood was RED (and not in a Republican sense) The only thing that should be considerded is that ALL LIFE starts with XX chromesones(female)-when one part drops off its XY(male)-why even consider race above biology?? FEMALES RULE, after the males fight it out and kill each other–we can wait....

        January 31, 2012 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Micajah88

    I should add that I had been studying genealogy for several years and realized that many of my family surnames were those associated with Melungeons in Va, WVa, Ky, Tn, and NC in the Appalachian areas. My ethnicity test was no surprise.

    January 31, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  9. Micajah88

    Take an ethnicity DNA test. I am 8% Native American and have a small amount of African American. I had no idea that I was such a mixture. I suspect most of us are more mixed than we know. Yet I grew up in Appalachia believing I was Scots-Irish. I've lived my adult life in La.

    January 31, 2012 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. AEireM

    Hmmm: What small western European Country do you come from that was so ill treated that you would resent any person of any race the opportunity to research the history of their lineage. My western European Country was invaded by Celts. Vikings, English, Spaniards but it is interesting and educational to look to the past now that we have the means & we may find that we are all more closely related than we ever knew.

    January 30, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      AEireM, he never said he resented them for doing family research. He was only wondering why people dwelled so much on having one drop of this or that racial group. His point was that we are all the same. I think you misread his post..

      January 31, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. AEireM

    A Texan: Well said, I think it is great for Don to be able to explore his ancestry in this way & I will enjoy reading his findings. As for all the people leaving negative comments here, they could well be our cousins from way back.

    January 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Donny

    It amazes me to read that status is defined by the color of ones skin(The lighter the smarter).
    It matters not what color, race or social status we are because we are all in the same boat, same ocean and same captain.

    January 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Transcender

      Hear! Hear! Right On!!

      January 30, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Hmmm

    I was born in a small western European country. Several times we were invaded by the Germans and also by the French, the Spaniards, Italians and others. They have raped, molested, tortured and killed millions upon millions.

    When I grew up I never heard anyone talk about what they did to families over the centuries. It happened in the past and we live in a different world.

    I moved to North America and I hear nothing but what the whites did to the blacks and Native Indians. Folks, it is time to forgive and move on. Forget about the color of our skin or the blood inside of us. We are all equal. It is what is inside of our hearts that count. What the heart is full of the mouth speaks.

    January 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Transcender

      There are some very nice words at the end there. But the problem in comparing the two is that Europe has had over a thousand years dealing with stuff – and I've been to Europe – there are still things going on over there – especially in Germany, with the laws forbidding any nazi sympathizers, and the neo-nazi gangs there. Here, we're only a couple hundred years old... and our stuff is still going on, too. Maybe in a couple hundred years more, we'll be in a better place.

      January 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Hmmm

        So what does that have to do with this. The last world war was only 70 years ago. Millions killed during that war. We moved on, we didn't dwell on the past. You don't get the point.. And you are talking about hate groups.

        January 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • Transcender

        Yes, I'm talking about hate groups – because that's still going on here. You were saying we shouldn't be doing that – and you're right, and I agree. But then you compared America dealing with white dominion, saying we should just get over it. All I'm saying is that it's a little hard to get over when one is still dealing with white dominion hate groups. Visit a reservation. Hell, visit some areas of the south, where blacks are being killed, run over, and that one poor man was dragged, deliberately, behing a pick-up truck until his head came off. What you're saying isn't wrong. I'd love to live in a society that you're describing. But there are still some groups, some people out there who turn one's stomach.

        January 30, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • Michelle Miranda

        Tell that to Native Americans who still are not welcome in American cities, who live on reservations without jobs, running water and heat.

        January 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kelly

        Michelle, I have been on reservations and all had running water, heat, homes, cars, etc.. Don't know where your located, but I'm sure if you called CNN they would make the story national news..

        January 31, 2012 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
    • davonskevort

      White people are Higgers (as in Tommy Hilfiger)... the brutal truth is that Asians and whites are both not real pure breed humans... they are Neanderthal human hybrids hence the lighter skin tone. The one drop of blood rule(to be considered black) should in fact be reversed as it should be 1 drop Neanderthal makes you non-black/human.

      January 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kelly

        Can't believe that I just wasted 5 seconds of my life reading your dribble...

        January 31, 2012 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. Brandi

    As I was saying, the issue of color is everywhere. Ask my Mexican husband who was made fun of for being darker than others in his country. My friend's Somalian friend who insisted she wasn't black, because she was of a lighter tone and therefore classified socially in a superior class than the darker people in her country, why I get made fun of for being super white, "blindingly white", "mayonnaise white". Yes let's all love each other for our diversity, but many people just can't. They need to protect their assets and find ways to classify like minded people similar to themselves. The "scandal" in my family history was that we had a Union soldier. Gasp! The horror!! But I am sure my interracial marriage is causing a scandal somewhere!!

    January 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      You said that your husband was of Mexican descent and that you are very White. That may make you an ethnically diverse marriage, but not racially diverse. Mexican is not a race... :)

      January 31, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. Dan Shaw

    I don't buy the one-drop rule. Never have. 1% of anything (or one drop) does not define the whole.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • michelle

      Bravo! great answer.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  16. HunterPSU

    its kind of like my dogs. Many people think they are black labs. but on closer inspection they have a little white in them. But because they look black they are mistaken as just black labs. I try to explain it to them that they are made up of more than one breed and that they should not let people upset them when they just judge their heritage by their color.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Transcender

      Well, isn't that nice? Comparing people who just want to do research on their family genealogy – like we all do – to animals.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Forreal

      @HunterPSU, it's either you are high on crack, or that you have some screws missing from your head.

      January 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  17. A Texan

    I have researched my family for 20 years, have taken some lines back into the middle ages, and along the way found more than a few interesting stories. These stories, along with other factors, such as race, time, location, and more, are of use in directing your research. Surprises, include finding family where you least expect, descriptive labels used in the taking of the census, etc., shape your mental picture of your family, especially when you have no physical pictures to look at. Please don't knock the processes used by others to research their family heritage. Without a bagful of various research tools, we'd know nothing about the families we sprang from except for a generation or two back. You can look for your heritage or not; it's your choice – but allow others the freedom to trace theirs in whatever reasonable manner they wish. The end result is, after all, what most of us are looking for.

    January 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Transcender

      Awesome comment!!

      January 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Babbs

    xx

    January 30, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  19. Stop the B.S.

    This "one drop" rule is garbage. What makes "black blood" so special over any other race blood? The answer is nothing. So, they have some black blood. Who cares? They have white blood too so they are just as much a white as they are a black. Many mixed race people like Tiger Woods and Hines Ward probably got made fun of by black kids while growing up but now all of a sudden they want to claim them as black because they are successful. Why can't Tiger Woods be Dutch since his mom is a quarter Dutch? Tiger Woods is also Thai and Chinese from his mother's side so why can't he be that? Hines Ward's mom is Korean so why aren't people referring to him as a Korean-American football player? If you have black blood, fine. If you have white, asian, latin, carribean, or any other type of blood that is fine too. Just stop with this us against the world. Minorities have made white feel bad for their previous transgressions but it's time to put an end to that. As much as some minorities play the race card, they themselves are also perpetuating reverse-racism towards whites. I know because I'm a "minority" and have seen my people being racist towards those of litter skin pigmentations.

    January 30, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      black is dominant. if you mix black with any other race, the most obvious is the black color. You can get white from black, but not black from white. this is common knowledge. You can only speculate, whether or not black people made fun of Tiger Woods or Hines Ward. Nobody black wants to claim Tiger or Hines. You are sadly mistaken. Nor do I want any white blood in me. Black and Proud of it.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
      • Quincey9

        As I understand the current theories and studies of the history of human anthropology human life originated in or around the African continent. Failing that extraterrestrials played a genetic hand in this whole thing I'd say that we're pretty much all interrelated and we should all start trying to solve problems instead of creating them.

        Love,
        a 100% (?) Irish Guy

        January 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • multi-racial rainbow

        Robert speak for yourself. You have an inferiority complex or are just nasty. Tiger and Hines are a drop in the bucket, there are alot of us like them. We will not go away and we are accepted just fine by decent intelligent people. We are glad to be rejected by people like you or other racist who don't like the black mixture. You know why? You are a waste of time.

        I am proud to be black, Asian, Native American and white. My other mixed races friends are proud of their heritage and my friends who aren't mixed race are happy to be who they are.

        January 30, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • evry1ismixed

      Black people did not create the 1 drop rule. It was created by whites during slavery in order to preserve the slave owner's way of life – that is, it guaranteed that children fathered by slave owners and the slaves they raped, would be born into slavery and continue to be valuable commodities for the slave owner. It also sought to maintain "purity" within the white race. Also children of black/white interacial marriages usually identify as black/AA because they look more black/AA and the white community will not except them, while the black/AA community does. But when it comes down to it, aren't we all mixed with something? Thanks for listening.

      February 2, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Kris

    My father's mother died after childbirth in 1932 and it was also nearly impossible back then for a white man to raise a white child. My maternal grandmother's parents and society pressured my grandmother into letting them raise my father, and basically excluded him from my father's life. I wasn't just a race issue.

    January 30, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  21. Mary Lou Melton

    It is way past time for blacks and whites to get over the fact that many "African Americans" are decendants of slaves and slaveholders. My mother's mother was also the product of rape by a white Irish man. Her mother was part Cherokee Indian and part African. My grandmother told me when she was a young child this "white man" used to drive by on his horse and buggy and pay unusual attention to her. She asked her mother, "why is that white man always bothering me". It was at that point her mother told her "that's because he is your daddy". My grandmother suffered her whole life with this legacy and so did my mother who is so white that she almost didn't qualify for the one-drop rule. She came out whiter than her own mother and at one point the State of Connecticut tried to take her from her mother because they believed she was too white to be raised by her own mother. This is not news it is just something that neither black people nor white people know how to come to terms with.

    January 30, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • HunterPSU

      Most often the scandle was from loose girls that had multiple partners of both races. When the baby came out pinkish they claimed rape because of the shame they brought on their family.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
      • Transcender

        Wow... I see all the ugly worms have come out of their stinky holes.

        January 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Heather

    Much luck, Don! I also experienced envy for my friends who had pictures of Grandma in the "Old Country" and it motivated me to do my family tree. I've had a great time, even though you have to take the ugly with the good.

    I'm white, but I also have black folks from the Caribbean in my ancestry. Many of us white folks are mixed race, too.

    January 30, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  23. texan

    Why are so many of you upset because this gentleman is talking about and researching his family history? How does this perpetuate racism or play the race card? He is stating the facts of his family history and you are either interested in it or not. If an anglo person recounted the hardships his foreparents went through coming from Ireland or Italy or Poland, would they be playing the race card or telling you their family history? Racism in this country will be greatly reduced when we can discuss past injustices without guilt or shame causing us to shield our hearts and minds from the truth. It happened, get over not being able to talk about it.

    January 30, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Well said. I couldn't agree more!!!

      January 30, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Quincey9

      It could have not been said better, Texan.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • JMaris

      Well said!

      January 30, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  24. fineart

    I'm a dark skinned African American Man, with a Caucasian wife and mixed race children. We all know what the game is in our household. We taught our children about the violent, racist history of the USA. We also gave them the best home life and education anyone can ask for. They consider themselves A/A, thru and thru, with no hatred for any other race.

    January 30, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • multi-racial rainbow

      I hope they don't forget they have white genes. It does influence ones health. I don't get why the kids don't identify as both since they are both. Embrace who you are and what made you.

      January 30, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ayisyen

        Maybe they don't identify as both because they are not accepted as both. Remember the one-drop rule?

        February 1, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Fataka Baba

    Don,
    We have had enough of your personal and family stories. promote yourself somewhere else. We pay for the news, not self prmotion. report on important events in this country and world. We don't want to know how good your are.

    January 30, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • texan

      Who did you pay? I think you got ripped off - I got it free on the internet.

      January 30, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
      • Arch

        Well played, Sir.

        January 30, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Instiqua

      Fataka, Baba,

      Read before you write. Don Lemon was asked by CNN in America to write about the impact of mixed racial background on his life.; this is a spin-off from that article. The racist history of America is all too real. It was then and so is it to this day. And how common people like Lemon work through the fog of racial prejudice persistent ot this day is definitely a subjectof interest for many of us. You want to be in your bubble mainlining on celebrity gossip go elsewhere nobody forces you in here. And besides -your sense of righteous indignation of being cheated out of your money's worth is absolutely priceless. But the fact is you are NOT paying to read this online article. So don't pretend you are.

      January 30, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
      • George, Dallas, TX

        I pay for my internet service! How are yo ugetting your's free?

        January 30, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  26. andrew miller

    "one drop"? so my great grandmother was a native american on a reservation then adopted off of it. that makes me native american by blood. but i dont get the free hand outs from the shaft this country gave the natives.... both blacks and natives had it bad. but i have this point here. why does being slightly black give you these benefit programs but being of native american descent you only get the benefit of the program if you are a certain percentage?

    January 30, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • @ Andre Miller

      When you say Government Handouts for Native Americans, you must mean the truck loads of canned veggies, and other products which have NO nutritional value...or are you referring to the arid land which nothing can grow on (since all the fertile land was taken).

      The US Government does NOTHING of any real substance for the Native Americans, any government program for them is a joke!

      Do yourself a favor and go visit an indian reservation, you'll find NO jobs (everyone has to work outside of the reservation), no land worth a damn and poverty and malnourishment everywhere. Wake up please!

      January 30, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Arch

      Yeah, I for one am tired of all the amazing wealth and riches that the average native american is living in! I mean look at the luxurious palatial estates they have on the reservations! And uhh....all those...good jobs....and quality education...uhh...wait....what?

      January 30, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • multi-racial rainbow

      Depends on the tribe. Each one is different and usually if you are registered with the tribe you can benefit from the programs that tribe has. BTW, no one is getting handouts. If you are proud of your Native American history then you have the right to check mixed race on any application that has this as an option.

      Life on the reservations are not pretty. It is a constant fight for those who stay or leave. Frankly, if you really were interested you could google information about Native American's yourself and find out this information. You are just looking for an axe to grind.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  27. steve

    let's cut through the chase. this racism stuff gets old. where I work, people of darker skin are disciminated against by light skinned blacks. they make it a point to let people know they have a white gene in their body. so what? look at tv commercials. do they have have a pure african american doing a commercial? nope, it's always a very light skinned black with nice features. it's all a bunch of bunk. blacks who are light skinned have an advantage. plain and simple!

    January 30, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • cboy619

      It's even worse in other countries, from Africa to South America, the lighter skin you are, the worse off you are...at least in the US (for the most part), it's frowned upon, in other countries people are open about their discrimination.

      Until people realize that we are all the same (no matter the tone of skin), we'll never be free and Dr. Martin Luther Kings dream will continue to be just that...

      January 30, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
      • George, Dallas, TX

        I am soooooooooo sick of Martin King. Cripes – every city in the US has a street, park, playground, school and on and on and on named after the man! All he was, was a loud-mouthed activist!

        January 30, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • multi-racial rainbow

      Steve, there are plenty of black people who have a mixed race background who have dark skin. Don is not racist or feeding racism. He is exploring his heritage. Yes there is a problem with some black people who have a skin color issue but it is likely they have lots of issues. In my family we are all different colors and my mom did not waste our minds teaching us worthless pecking order criteria for being 'black'. Just because a person is not 'pure' black doesn't mean they cannot represent black people.

      January 30, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  28. thinkergal

    I do wish you the best of luck, Don. I grew up in La. before the civil rights movement. The ugliness of the system under which your aunt and grandmother lived needs to be exposed. My parents (we're white) were good, Christian people–and completely racist! My 90-year-old mother is to this day.

    January 30, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  29. Mickey Wright

    Living in Louisiana in the 50's ; my mother is biracial and received 90.8% of the white gene ( basically she is white) and my dad was all Black, I remembered many times being pulled over by the police with the idea my mom was WHITE. However, the moment she got of the car and started fussing , within an instant I could hear the police say " she's a Ni**er" and pull off. For many years we as kids didn't understand race...... I could write a book on the issue, much PAIN!!!!!!

    January 30, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • marie

      This saddens me that you experienced such pain growing up, no child sees their parents as anything but heroes and wonderful people. I hope you find happiness and know that we are all working to end such prejudice, day at a time.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  30. TD

    And.... This is news? Who gives a crap?

    January 30, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Sambo

      It is CNN's daily play the race card article. Shutup and feel good about it.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
      • AVoice

        Wondering what exactly is this often talked about race card?

        January 30, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  31. Joe

    Does anyone realize that the discussion itself perpatrates racism and seperation. As long as there are organizations fighting for those of color, colleges for only those of color, channels on TV specific for those of color, honors and awards seperate from others just because of color, then seperation continues and racism lives on. Until we can be the HUMAN RACE, nothing changes.....

    January 30, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • AVoice

      Discussions like this promote knowledge, and understanding of experiences. Without conversations how can this country heal. I will say you are likely a 'get over it' person and I say people will get over it when it is over and it is not over. Why are you afraid of conversation?

      January 30, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • RBG

      We are Americans. This discussion just continues the strategy to bring more divisiveness to our country. I have Native American, Latino and Anglo blood in my veins. My color is white, my race is mixed.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
      • AVoice

        When people are afraid to have a discussion, there is more division. Not the other way around. It is the reaction that is very common that comes from (usually) white people of 'lets not talk about it' that is a reflection of..what? Shame? Lot of people with stories, lot of pain all all colors of the spectrum. Conversation is ok, better than violence.

        January 30, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • George, Dallas, TX

      Blacks perpetuate racism because they get their way!

      January 30, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  32. SMHFarrar

    It's amazing how the post have nothing what so ever to do with the article. One drop was created to delete a mixed heritage among people. Blacks were not allowed to "own land or vote", native americans could not be "taxed" so if you were deemed "black" then the government could tax you and your rights would be walked over! People, start at the library prior to posting anything about the history of anybody.

    January 30, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Pilgrim1

      So what you are saying is that it was better to be a Native American since they were respected and not taxed??

      I think you need to go to the library!

      January 30, 2012 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
  33. Lucy

    I believe my grandmother was one-quarter black. She passed for white in the early 20th century but looked more African American than Don's grandmother. I had the DNA done and the math works out. Interesting that she was the most prejudiced person I have ever known, but I suppose had a lot to hide.

    January 30, 2012 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
  34. lauranne

    In 1970 I went Italy to visit relatives of both my parents who had immigrated to the US as children. I had very good records to follow. I ended up staying in Europe for almost 8 years because of the absolute enjoyment I discovered immersing myself in other cultures. Most of my time was spent in northern Italy and Switzerland. I met fascinating people, finished a college degree and realized I had done something so remarkably different that many people can only dream about it. The worst prejudicial behavior I received was in Italy from those who mistook us for Germans, Americans or mixed race and refused service to us. We are light-skinned, blonde/green-eyed Italian. I got to know relatives that were mixed race, who had different levels of education and income levels; who were kind and who were odd by any cultural standards. Many were dark southern Italians. This knowledge and experience helped me evolve into the person that I have become. And with such a variety of life experiences I have since been able to recognize that rude or odd behaviors are often times just cultural differences needing to be understood and respected. However, having spent so much time integrated into other cultures, I also discovered we are all basic human beings who want a loving family and the ability to live comfortably. We all have "weird birds" in our family tree no matter what race, or ethnicity or country we are from. I like to believe that I have become more tolerant and accepting of our individual differences as an adult. The culture shock coming back to California is what was the most difficult transition. Yet it's the next generation that I worry about who seem rude, intolerant and self-absorbed. After we sought in so many ways to create dramatic social changes in the 1970s and tolerance of our differences, it just doesn't seem to matter to younger people now. Sad.

    January 30, 2012 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  35. Devin

    Considering he is talking about "one drop of black blood" made you black... I find it funny that the caption for under his grandma's picture says "often mistaken for white." If you have white skin, how are you mistaken for white? I completely understand that they have African in their background. But we are literally talking about colour. If you get mistaken for white, does that not mean your white, not black?

    January 30, 2012 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Pilgrim1

      If you use bad grammar and improper words in your post, can you be mistaken for an ignorant fool?

      January 30, 2012 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  36. Lucy

    My post is about white and gray–tombstones. It's a great place to find information on long lost relatives. My husband and I joined findagrave dot com, which is a free website and depends on volunteers to catalog as many graves worldwide as possible.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  37. Vin of Milton WA

    I discovered earlier this year doing my family geneology that one of my ancestors, Charles W. Chesnutt, was deemed "black" by the one drop rule also. If that rule still existed today I guess I would be classified as an African American though that drop in me is now only 1/128th of my total makeup. I appear european, because the majority of my ancestors came from there. I'm also part Native American. And now I have no idea what I should list myself as when I fill out my next job application or census. Perhaps if they would put that catagory "mutt" on the forms I could check that one.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  38. thinking person

    If humans evolved in Africa (I think the region of Ethiopia was the most recent theoretical "birthplace of humanity") then don't we all have at least "one drop"?
    And a side note – would an albino person of "black" heritage be considered.... black? white? transparent?
    Seriously, when will we grow up and stop grouping people by the number of melanin in their cells??

    January 30, 2012 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
    • n2urpost

      Agreed. Also, When you're taught to be a victim since childhood it changes your perception on things considerably.

      January 30, 2012 at 5:11 am | Report abuse |
      • Transcender

        You could've just stopped at "Agreed." But then you had to reveal yourself and your ugly underskirts...

        January 30, 2012 at 5:47 am | Report abuse |
    • way2buzy

      Well said. We ALL originated from Africa or areas nearby. We need to drop the stereotyping and realize we all came from one place, the birthplace of humanity, wherever that may be.

      January 30, 2012 at 5:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Becca

      Very well said. We're all of the Human Race and folks will find we have far more in common than not, and can learn from each other. Otherwise, we're short-changing ourselves.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  39. Vin of Milton WA

    I discovered earlier this year doing my family geneology that one of my ancestors, Charles W. Chesnutt, was deemed "black" by the one drop rule also. If that rule still existed today I guess I would be classified as an African American though that drop in me is now only 1/128th of my total makeup. I appear european, because the majority of my ancestors came from there. I'm also part Native American. And now I have no idea what I should list myself as when I fill out my next job application or census. Perhaps if they would put that catagory "mutt" on the forms I could check that one'

    January 30, 2012 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
  40. pat

    I think we would be amazed to see how many of us americans are not "pure" if we dna /genetic testing. apparently a great great grandfather of mine was part indian so using that "one drop" rule does that make ne a native american? I do know that I am 'me' and that I am also an american..... thats good enough.... I am currently living in a european country where it is illegal to ask someone their race.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:36 am | Report abuse |
  41. Mr. E.

    Thanks for sharing this Don. I wish you well. I'm extremely interested in tracing my family's heritage as well. It's actually a work in progress and your story has inspired me to continue.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
  42. JFritz

    Best of luck, Don. You're a class act and a terrific journalist. There's only one race that counts, and that's the human race. You're a terrific example, and your family should be very proud.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Joan

      Well said.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • thinkergal

      I so agree.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  43. JP0

    Don, I like your articles and I like your show on CNN. It's sad to see the ignorance displayed here by a few. Clearly you are above all that. You are the best thing you can be, yourself. Most of us love you for it.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  44. Lena

    A drop of anything doesn't make you what you are. If your mother is white and your father is black, than you're mixed.
    You should never disrespect your Mother, your grandmother and your aunt were mostly white.

    When I was growing up in Brazil, we never saw color, we saw people. I cannot stand all this racism in America......

    January 30, 2012 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Amen.

      January 30, 2012 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  45. vgs1895

    Thank you! I am a white-looking woman whose dad was very dark (some say Black Portuguese) and whose mom was from England (with an African somewhere in her background). I can't stand being judged as "white" when I know I'm mixed. Many of us have fought to have "mixed" race included on surveys because we can't put "white" down as my race. I would love people not to see me only as white, but that doesn't happen. There are many of us out there and even an organization to help: http://www.mavinfoundation.org/ By the way–there is a great book you may have already read: The Sweeter the Juice. It gave me courage to do be proud of my heritage (whatever it really is!).

    January 30, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Jill

      I like the idea of a "mixed" category...wouldn't that break down so many social barriers! The new category should be called "Mutt." :)

      January 30, 2012 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
    • thinking person

      not sure if CNN will let it post, but there is an great hair care line called "Mixed Chicks".
      As America (and the world) becomes more "mixed", will be need more (or fewer) such labels? Can't we invent a new set of terms and try to move past the hurtful connotations of the past?
      I want to check off a box that says "beige, slightly pink-ish"

      January 30, 2012 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
  46. Janet

    Helllo, Don
    I could care less as to your color. Your heritage is only important to you, rightfully so. Being a CNN junkie, I see your appearances daily and never think about your color. You do such a great job and always a gentleman in all ways. You surely are one handsome dude. At almost 90, I can still recognize good looks. I remember times when someone sat in for you. He's a realy nice guy, but I feared you had left. CNN is very good at simply replacing people, and we never find out why. Thanks much for bringing us your news program.

    January 30, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Diana De Haven

      I have to agree with Janet regarding CNN simply replacing people and we often never hear why or where those people went. CNN's habit of doing this is very frustrating when we like a host or interviewer and are curious as to what happened to them. I've tried to find a way to tell CNN my opinion but never found the avenue to do that.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Pilgrim1

      Janet... He bats for the other team.... meaning not only does he have a drop of black, but a few drops of gay as well...

      January 30, 2012 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
      • Jen

        Umm...irrelevant? To this discussion at least – assuming you care to have a genuine discussion.

        January 30, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  47. Berkeleygirl

    First, good luck on the Louis Gates work! I've seen his series Black in America; its amazing.

    Secondly, we need to realize that as Americans, we have some assumptions about race that we need to challenge. I was unaware of this fact until I lived in Zambia in my early 20s. Being white, people introduced me to other white people, thinking we would hit it off. Skin color is just skin color. In the US, we use it as a proxy for an array of thought, beliefs, and options that identify ourselves by. In Zambia, I had nothing in common with the white people there. The people I gravitated towards, who understood me, my opinions, and my values, were (black) Zambians who had lived in America and Europe.
    It made me realize that race is a cultural construct. Our racial issues do not exist in most countries–most countries are actually divided along language and/or religion (these two tend to go together).

    January 29, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Berkeleygirl

    First, good luck on the Louis Gates work! I've seen his series Black in America; its amazing.

    Secondly, we need to realize that as Americans, we have some assumptions about race that we need to challenge. I was unaware of this fact until I lived in Zambia in my early 20s. Being white, people introduced me to other white people, thinking we would hit it off. Skin color is just skin color. In the US, we use it as a proxy for an array of thought, beliefs, and options that identify ourselves by. In Zambia, I had nothing in common with the white people there. The people I gravitated towards, who understood me, my opinions, and my values, were (black) Zambians who had lived in America and Europe. Our racial issues do not exist in most countries–most countries are actually divided along language and/or religion (these two tend to go together). It made me realize that race is a cultural construct.

    January 29, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  49. McGuffin

    Nothing against Don Lemon, but talk about creating fluff "news" out of thin air. CNN is a news organization, right? You know, investigates and reports on things happening in the world?

    January 29, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beckton

      I agree 100% what a waste.

      January 30, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
      • Hmmm

        I totally agree with this comment. We all come from various backgrounds and we all have stories to tell. CNN is about news, Today's news, not this kind of reporting. Share what is really important to most of us.

        January 30, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      If you don't like human interest stories, why not pick one of the more than ONE HUNDRED other stories on its main page?

      Doesn't anybody appreciate what they have, especially when it's FREE?

      January 30, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
      • Hmmm

        I pay for my internet, not sure if yours is free

        January 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • thinkergal

      I do not agree. We should work on understanding people in an effort to understand the nuances of why things happen as they do–in other words, to better understand "the news." Nothing happens in a vacuum.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  50. leftcoast

    Don Lemon, I wish you the best of luck in your search. Everyone's history is interconnected and sharing yours can only help us all understand each other.

    January 29, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Rick

    Mistaken for white? That's a silly statement. Your skin color dictates what color you are. not an emotional attachment to a race. If you are white colored, you are white. The guy in the video is white. I don't care if both of his parents are black, he is not. Just look at him!

    January 29, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • willowspring

      For what it's worth, Rick, it's not the color of a person's skin, it's the DNA. I'm not saying it's right, but that's what truly determines what a person's race is, be it white, black, or black AND white. For me personally, we are all God's children and that is what really matters.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • thinkning person

        We need to keep in mind that "race" has very little to do with science, so please don't throw around DNA references. "Race" is a human construct of our own percieved differences, nothing more.

        I was also jolted by the phrase "mistaken for white", which implies being percieved as Caucasian as a "mistake", or a negative to this particular person. There are stories i my family of a couple relatives with darker skin and broader noses who were denied access to certain diners and beaches in the '50s in southern NJ because they were "mistaken for black". (Somehow in the retelling of this story my eldest relatives think it was very amusing, and never noticed how it reflected on their ignorance of racial relations in America). It is strongly possible that in my "white" ancestry hides a person of non-European heratige, and I am glad to have that diversity (and the beautiful dark hair!)

        January 30, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  52. Stacy

    The American people are confused and lied to.....if we should all do the one drop rule then a lot of us would be considered Black starting with the Jews and the Latinos. Where I am from we were thought the truth, that if your hair was of natural curls you are black mix.

    January 29, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Str8whtguy

    So, AS FAR AS I KNOW, my mom is Irish, my dad is half German and half Italian, and my wife is a mix of English, Swedish, Scottish and Native American. Not sure what that makes my daughter, other than "American". There might be a "one drop" of something else in there somewhere, and if so, I hope my blonde-haired, blue-eyed five-year-old daughter finds it out some day. In this country, it shouldn't matter.

    January 29, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Str8whtguy

      to add to the confusion, my parents are liberal Pennsylvanians who grew up in an urban environment, and my wife's parents are conservative rural New Englanders. I like bourbon, and my father-in-law has never had anything stronger than milk in his life. Still, we compare notes constantly on our respective wives, and go "hmmm..."

      January 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • willowspring

      AMEN!!!!

      January 29, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  54. LaKeisha

    Don Lemon,

    If you haven't done so, check out African Ancestry. http://www.africanancestry.com. You may be able to trace your ancestry prior to slavery. My family have done so and our ancestry traces back to Mozambique Africa from the Makua tribe which still exist today.

    January 29, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Str8whtguy

      LaKeisha: That's awesome! What a gift for your children. My Italian grandmother's heritage was all but erased at Ellis Island in 1910. Please let your children know what a blessing they have to know that much of their heritage.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Jim from Idaho

    Good luck on your search, Don. No matter what may be disclosed about the past, you know the present - and that is that you are one terrific human being. Thanks for all you do in sharing the news so well!

    January 29, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  56. malena p. Scottsdale, AZ.

    Celebrate who you are, embrace all of you, be the best human being you can be; and along the way try to make the world a better place.
    Love and peace.

    January 29, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • ezg437

      Amen to that sister! How 'bout the dang Gov of ours?? What a wreck, and an embarrassment. Please remember to vote, we need you : )

      January 29, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Amanda Handy

    I applaud what you are doing. I think a lot of racists in America may have some things to think about if they traced their own histories and what kind of 'drops' are in their bloodlines.

    January 29, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  58. toadears

    Mr. Lemon's grandmother was drop dead gorgeous!

    January 29, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Str8whtguy

      I'm with you, bro.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  59. pam

    It doesn't change the truth–The one drop rule- These children are 50% White and 50% Black. This propaganda was created for voting fraud. They are not just Black. Some people will do or say anything for money and power, and some people are wick minded enough to believe this propaganda lie.

    January 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Cecile

    On my mother's side we have been able to trace ancestry back to the Mayflower and beyond. We have two Mayflower ancestors who had children who married each other. My mother's very distant ancestors include Malcolm I of Scotland, King David I of France, and a Saint. More recent ancestors include Susan B. Anthony and the artist who painted the portrait of George Washington that is on our dollar bill. So what? All of that has nothing to do with who I am today.

    Far more ore interesting to me is my father's side. We know that there are Scottish and French ancestors who came to America, but we don't know who they were. One of them coming west on a wagon train ran off with the Native American scout, or guide. It was illegal for them to marry due to miscegenation laws, and she gave up her family name and never told it to any of her descendants. So that's as far as we can go with that line. Another of my father's ancestors was the outlaw Belle Starr. Now, there's a heritage one can really be proud of!

    January 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cecile

      I also wanted to add that Belle Starr's mother was Elizabeth (Eliza) Hatfield Shirley, who was related to the Hatfield family of the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud! And that I truly am amazed to be descended from these people! I think of the Normal Rockwell painting of an American family tree that shows Puritans, African slaves, Native Americans, outlaws and sweet little sunbonnet ladies. Americans are pretty much mongrels whatever the color of their skin may be, and I'm really proud to be an American mongrel.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • willowspring

        Wow!! I love your story. Everyone has a story and should be proud of it no matter where they are from or what color their skin. Just be glad we are Americans and we are free. Please protect what we have in November.

        January 29, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Helaina Hinson

    I was robbed of my heritage by adoption. It was supposed to be an open adoption, but the adopters lied in order to get their hands on babies. I was twelve when I saw "Roots" and found out people could trace their heritage. It was the first time I'd heard of another person, Alex Haley, who understood why I needed to know. I promised myself I'd trace my own history someday.

    I was able to find my real parents, and trace my family's history. I'm descended from the first Europeans to settle in America, Choctaws and Cherokees who walked the Trail of Tears, veterans of every American war, and even English royalty. I am proud of every drop of blood those people gave me.

    Write down your stories for your children, and pass your history along, even if they don't seem interested now. Every piece of heritage is a legacy.

    January 29, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • willowspring

      Good advice. Part of my family is traced back to the 13th century in Wales on my grandfather's side, but my grandmother is from German descent first generation here. On the other side there's German again, (second generation) and Irish, but is only back to the 1800s. Fascinating stuff and something the children and grandchildren will be interested in later in life. My granddaughter's teacher had the kids do a project on genealogy in her 5th or 6th grade class and she loved it.

      January 30, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  62. oh please

    Don
    Its a DROP of WHITE blood that you have in you
    not the other way around um k

    January 29, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chicago7

      Not according to the Jim Crow laws of the south, that these people had to live under. Do some reading.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • willowspring

        It's good to know the history, but this is the here and now. We're free and we're Americans. Be thankful. No other country can claim what we have.

        January 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Lili

    Don, I love your reporting and personality. I too want to find out more about my European ancestors. I think who our ancestors were may shape who we are. I remember Chris Rock finding out that one of his forebearers was a judge, and that made him say that had he known maybe it would have changed his life. We just want to know who we are and feel the pleasure of knowing our roots. Let's leave the race card behind. It is about strenght we get from those who came before us. It may help give us a better sense of belonging. We do stand on their shoulders and on our own two feet. The road ahead is ours but we may want to thank those whose lives brought us here. And live to makle them proud.

    January 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  64. ignorance file

    good luck. sometimes this stuff is painful. i learned many years ago to put a file in my brain with the label, "Ignorance". i have a son that is 50% asian. my mom said, "if he's asian, don't bring him around here." my own son. from me. and i was told that i couldn't bring my son to christmas dinner. i heard so many stupid things when i was a kid that i made a file in my brain and called it ignorance. lots of stupid things are in there. i had a banker tell me that i couldn't take out a loan to go to school because i had a son. it was a federal financial aid form. he's in there too.

    January 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorance file

      i think some doctors in sd would have let my son die too. i pulled him out of that hospital. long story, but i'm sure they would have let him die.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorance file

      lots of people are just too stupid. i thought that sounded kind of rude so i called it ignorance...they simply don't know. ignorant.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Charisse V

    This sounds wonderful. I'm on the flip side of the one drop rule- I'm usually the fairest skinned in any group of "white" people, yet my family is black. I refer to myself as the "whitest African American" you're ever going to meet. Personally, I feel that mixed races are very beautfiul (not just black and white, but all mixes)- Exotic looks are in and your grandmother and aunt are stunning. Looks like your aunt has blue eyes. I've always been fascinated by ethnic combinations- like black Irish with ivory white skin, jet black hair and blue eyes- and was blown away when I met a full blooded "Italian" who looked like Alexander Skarsgard from Sweden! Also interesting are the blonde haired, black skinned people of Melanesia. The world is fascinating and people are so much more beautiful than racial stereotypes make them.

    I'm excited to see the results of your search but think it might be better for NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are" than a CNN expose or feature.

    January 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • toadears

      As I have said for years, great gardeners know that hybrids make the prettiest flowers. :)

      January 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Mark

    Congratulations! You're black, liberal, gay, and all the women in your family were raped.by whites. Now CNN has the perfect puppet with which to force feed us all liberal propoganda for years to come.

    January 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      It's also a great opportunity for conservatives to show how selfish and heartless they are.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I'm not conservative. It's not surprising that's the way you think. Anyone who subscribes to either political parties ideology (or the tea parties for that matter) is a clueless drone.

      Everything CNN prints now is in support of an agenda. They've become even worse then Fox News over the last couple years.. That was never supposed to be the purpose of the news. It's all a gigantic propoganda machine now. If CNN's anchors want to turn the cameras on themselves then they should leave the news game and head over to the Oprah network.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
      • ezg437

        then please just go ay if cnn is so terrible in your view. just go away, and stay there for a long time. K?

        January 29, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • Transcender

        Mark vomits his poisonous spew on here because he doesn't know how to talk to people in the real world. Can you imagine sitting at a table with a dirtbag who makes fun of 10-year-old and 12-year old girls being raped? In a society that devalued them? That's why he's on here – here he can't get the physical response he deserves. To Don Lemon: I look forward to your next installment!

        January 29, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mark

        Ohhhh here we go!!!!! Always comes down to this. The most ignorant person in the room picks up one of those "untouchable topics" and tries to stick it to the guy they disagree with. Now I'm pro "child rape" because I think this article is propoganda. Reminds me of when Sarah Palin started screaming from the top of her lungs that David Lettermen was a pedophile because he pointed out the hypocracy of her families behaviour.
        Take your nazi b()llsh!t somewhere else buddy!

        January 30, 2012 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
      • Transcender

        "Always comes down to this." – Really?!? I'm shocked! That you "always" get this reaction!
        "Now I'm pro "child rape" because I think this article is propoganda." – NOOO, MARK, THIS MEANS YOU ARE "DISGUSTING" BECAUSE YOU THINK IT'S OKAY TO MAKE FUN OF CHILD-RAPE OF TWO LITTLE BLACK GIRLS (10 AND 12 YEARS OLD) IN THE EARLY PART OF THE 1900'S.
        Sarah Palin IS A HYPOCRITE, AND A PHONY, AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF THIS. YOU'RE JUST TRYING TO CLOUD AND OBFUSCATE AND DISTRACT. SORRY, PAL, YOU'RE JUST WHO YOU ARE. A NOBODY – WHO DOESN'T TALK TO REAL PEOPLE – SO YOU COME ON THESE COMMENT BOARDS TRYING TO BULLY PEOPLE. YOU PICKED THE WRONG PERSON. :))) ALL YOU DO IS JUST EXPOSE YOURSELF AND YOUR DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Mark,
      "I'm not conservative."

      I didn't say you were. "It's not surprising that's the way you think."

      January 29, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mark

        Oh I see. I guess I just assumed you were calling me a conservative. By all means then. Please explain your comment and tell me why in the hell you would post it here if you didn't assume I was a conservative? I would just love to hear your reasoning on that one dewche b@g!

        You should have been a lawyer. You wouldn't win any cases but it would have been fun to watch

        January 29, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ezg437

      Mark-You are pathetic. But no doubt one of those wonderful christian types. You're parents would be ashamed...no wait, they raised you with that garbage. size isn't everything so stop attacking others pencil dck

      January 29, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mark

        Are you f()cking ret@rded or something? Maybe you should check in to your own dna d!ckwad! You can barely string a sentence together and please read what you wrote in both of your comments. There is actually nothing of substance in either one. You don't make one point or say anything remotely interesting.

        Why don't you try fighting agianst these bull5h!t propoganda news networks like CNN and Fox News instead of sitting around all day sucking on their t!t just because they tell you what you want to hear.
        The whole country is going to hell because everyone's trying to brainwash all of you. Anytime someone disagree's with any of your beliefs you're trained to label them either a conservative or a liberal. Christian / Atheist, racist / treehugger ect ect.
        Start using your own brain please.

        January 29, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • ezg437

        sorry if I touched a nerve sweetie. nite. sleep tight.

        January 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mark

        Touched a nerve? Unbelievable. You say nothing but instead ramble on with what I can only assume were insults that don't relaly have anything to do with anything. Then you try to claim you "touched a nerve"? You are simply a genius. We need to set you up in a massive think tank in Washington so all our problems can be solved. You're such an independant thinker and you really know how to express yourself!

        January 30, 2012 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
    • willowspring

      I've read almost every comment so far and was thinking, "gosh, it's nice to read these and not have a jaded comment in bad taste to ruin the stream of all the other up lifting comments." There might be more good ones and maybe even more like yours, but I'm over it with your comment.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Amethyst

    Most people in America are of a mixture of races. A lot of the dark skinned African-Americans have white ancestry. So what is the big deal? Sounds like Don and Soledad O'Brian, and some others have an issue that their heritage has african genes. One of the things that make this country so great is the freedom. If a person is so concerned bout their African ancestry, simply change the label to white. It is ridiculous to have adults whining about their African ancestry. Whatever your ancestry, or complexion is, try to be the best person that you can be.

    January 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      i dont think thats what he is trying to do nor say, it sounds like to me that he would like to know his african history but he cant because they where enslaved and he'll never no his european history because they raped his grandma!

      January 29, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • ezg437

      let me guess: you are white...right? thus the reason you have no clue why it is an issue, even today after all the legislation. cant legislate non-discrimination, only through education and exposure do people really change. I'm white so let the haters know that so you dont say I say what I say because of my race. Difference is I'm not a ding dong white who has no clue what it's like to be put aside, or worse. Does nobody feel badly that his family was raped? Geez, that is pathetic.

      January 29, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Transcender

      Your comment is dripping with condescension, ignorance, and utter delusions.
      "One of the things that make this country so great is the freedom." – Freedom for whom? The Native American tribes that the whites tried to obliterate when they came to this land and spread across? Or the African tribes that the whites shipped to this land? We are talking perspective here. You're trying to wipe out hundreds of years of tyrranny, abuse and murder in one fell swoop – you want to forget the past, like it doesn't matter. It does matter! Only by understanding the real history of this land, can we ALL learn to respect each other, and move forward TOGETHER.

      January 30, 2012 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
  68. Dave Voiles

    Don, you are the best of the best. I watch CNN waiting for you to come on with your take on the news. Search to your hearts content, know that you and your family are the best. Things happen in life that we cannot change, but your family is one I would loved to be a part of, and I guess I am as I think the world of you, and now your family. Be strong, find out all you can,.. and know that the love of a family overrides so many things. You are the best of the best !!!!!!

    PS..... I love your posts on food!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pilgrim1

      This is not a dating service!

      January 30, 2012 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
  69. Nancy in MInneapolis

    Don– you have made such a difference with gays and lesbians, Now you have much to much to say about racism. Looking into your past will be painful. But everything happens for a reason, and for some reason, you have been given your insight and a world stage to make a difference. Look back, be strong, keep telling Your Story.

    January 29, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Laurie

    My family can trace our roots back to the 1600's in Scotland. It's so powerful for me to think of what those people may have been like, and to wonder if they ever considered what their descendents in the 21st century would be like. Never once has anyone ever questioned my family's motivation in learning about our past. I don't see any need to question Don Lemon's motivation in learning about his family history. We are far too quick to politicize everything, and to take one side or another. Sometimes there just isn't a side that needs to be taken.

    January 29, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Pilar Gilbert

    More Power to you Don. Wish you could find all the answers to your questions about the past history of white men as the head of the house. I had studied about the various abuses to black girls and women by their white owners in my African American Women's Culture and they were not too easy to read and write a paper about the women's sufferings. Classic example is Mary Tubman's "Underground Railroad..." Don, wishing you and your mom to move forward and learn to forgive the past. Bless.

    January 29, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Claude

    Louisiana? Creole heritage perhaps? By way of Hispaniola? I think so.....

    January 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy Willams

      Not everyone in Louisiana is of Creole descent.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Mark

    Best of luck, Don. It is difficult for white people to track down their ancestors sometimes. The situation with people of African descent in this country is disgusting. If the issue of slavery had been addressed when this country was founded, it may have made a difference. But, given the genocide of the Native people during the century that followed, I doubt it.

    January 29, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Jennifer Souza

    Good luck. It can be an exciting journey, and you might find more information than you think you can. My husband and I came across this when researching his family (one of the rare families to not have mixed much with non-Afro-Brazilians.)

    http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/index.faces

    January 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  75. hugo

    who cares?

    January 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa C

      apparently you cared enough to respond....

      January 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chaiah

      I care.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Calvin

    And here all along I thought he was Lemonese....

    January 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Ken Whitehurst

    I have traced my family history to ca 1781. It wasn't easy but the info was there in the census records. Published it for family and the state archives in NC in 2000. Anyone read "One Drop" by Bliss Broyard. Interesting.

    January 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  78. multi-racial rainbow

    Don, this is another great artlcle by you. I wish you the best in your search. National Geograhic can also run the test required to understand ethnicity. The test is afforadable at $99 USD. National Geographic is looking at migratory patterns and how they have influence our racial makeup. It is a fascinating project. I would encourage people to invest in it. It is fun and very insightful.

    From a medical perspective, if you find out you have a mixed race background. Please share with your doctor. They need to know so they can diagnosis people better. There are many black people in America of Chinese descent who have no idea. Find out so you can enjoy good health.

    January 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chaiah

      Thank you for that information. Our son in law has a very rich heritage and this testing by National Geographic would be very helpful in determining all sorts of things. Thanks, again!

      January 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Mitchell

    good luck in South Louisiana ,, I live here , I know , some changes /only are surface deep ,, and no one ,,black or white has any intention of changing ,,

    January 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Jules

    Really interesting, heavy subject matter you're tackling there, Don. I'm interested in reading about what you find, and your take on the results. Good luck! P.S. You once mentioned on Twitter that my offer to give a broadcasting shack in my living-room with a complimentary snuggie sounded appealing. The offer forever stands, lol. :)

    January 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Jules

    Really interesting, heavy subject matter you're tackling their, Don. I'm interested in reading about what you find, and your take on the results. Good luck! P.S. You once mentioned on Twitter that my offer to give a broadcasting shack in my living-room with a complimentary snuggie sounded appealing. The offer forever stands, lol. :)

    January 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Chalko

    Don Lemon is probably the 2nd most racist person on CNN after Roland Martin. When facts were brought up which directly contradicted him during a debate he flipped out because a black man did not side with him. If you want to see what Im talking about look at this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeLyreDnZsU

    January 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimmerman

      Don is probably the 2nd most honest person on CNN.
      Just because you can't shape things your way, don't expect everyone to 2nd. your motion.
      You racist pigs are truly disgusting.

      January 29, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • multi-racial rainbow

      A racist is a person who believes someone is lesser than themselves based on race or ethnicity. That is a racist. Frankly, I give it to Don for putting himself out there. Reading the hate that is spewed when articles have been posted about black American history is shocking. I would not have the patience to deal with this.

      That video does not prove Don is a racist as you say. Your posting does indicate you like to agitate people and put words in others mouth.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa C

      Oh grow up... it's sad that people feel big and bad while spewing hateful things about others...... Seriously you are no better than the ones you claim are awful.... sad!!!!!!

      January 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chaiah

      You call that "flipping out?" Are you serious? That was a very controlled discussion and barely contentious – nevermind "flipping out." Also, it had nothing to do with the color of Edgerton's skin, but instead his viewpoint. You truly have issues if you think that Don was at all "racist" in that discussion – or any other.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  83. R. Christian

    It is a real revelation to have your family roots traced. My family going back a couple of hundred years were farmers, shop keepers and coal miners... and yes, we found 2 direct ancestors who were black. I think the greatest gift to anyone who is prejudice is to have them trace their family. It will open your eyes and I am told far more common than you think. We are all just one people in this great country of ours after all!

    January 29, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Calvin

      I traced mine too. My great grandfather was a circus elephant.

      January 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  84. dina

    You know we are all descended from that one mitrochondal African woman out of Africa so we are all brothers or sisters under the skin. There is no black or white blood although I know some people like to think so.People are people and culture forms them not their genes. You are how you are raised.
    I watch your show all the time and like your journalism. Keep doing it, You are a good journalist.Mr. Lemon.

    January 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  85. HP

    White people don't need nor wait for "DNA results" and "genetic tracing" in order to decide which persons are white (and function as white) and which persons are non-white ("people of color"). You think Hitler waited around for "lab tests" and "ancestry.com" in order to determine who's white and who isn't white ? He decided right then and there. That's racism/white supremacy. There are many non-white people who have a lighter skin tone/color than "white" people, but yet, "white" people say that those light skin non-white people are not white. This leads me to believe that "white" denotes FUNCTION and not actual skin color. When a white person says "I'm white" that means they FUNCTION as a white person in a color caste system society.

    January 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Chaiah

    Don, amazing stuff. I hope you discover more than you expect and that those discoveries bring you much more happiness than those of rapes. Keep the faith, young man. ; )

    January 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Biggerpriorities

    Yeah, maybe a long time ago, hiding your drop was the mission. Now days, skin color is less of an issue and the name of the game is NOT to be a Homeless "any-race."

    January 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  88. Debbie

    Don,
    Thanks for your stories!!! They and you are great. Keep us posted.

    January 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Heritage

    @Robert

    There's nothing wrong with having white relatives if you're black or black relatives if you're white. We're all creatures of the almighty God!

    January 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  90. ThePath

    The 1st early awakening for a mixed race kid will be the absurdity of "race." A kid knows something is not right in the
    world. He/she will see the contradictions in his own and races outside his/her own. The ones who can pass will do
    so and justifiably take that course to not add an extra burden in the climb towards a good life. It can add anxiety in being
    found out. Through the improvement in one's education and the slow moving progress of understanding /education
    of the populace, it may add to the character of that individual. So, in the long run, I feel it's a "blessing."

    January 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Marge

    By the way Ancestry.com is again doing their program where they trace people's ancestors. The first one coming up will be Martin Sheen. I don't know exactly when it will start, I think in February. But it will be on NBC network.

    January 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  92. lotsahelp

    If you look white and have a predominantly white heritage why are you black? That is just leftover from racist times. Many of us have mixed heritages, i am polish, german, french and danish. Does one drop of one of those outway the others?

    January 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • multi-racial rainbow

      Frankly if regardless of the skin tone it is about genetics. If you have black and white ancestry then you are both black and white/bi-racial; it is the same if the other race is of Asian descent of Natiive American. If you have one than on race, then you are multi-racial. Genetics and science define what race a person is. Not the color of their skin.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chicago7

      According to the latest studies in molecular biology, there is no such thing as race in humans. Race is a wholly political and cultural phenomenon based on skin tone. It is long past the time for all of us to leave this fake construct behind and move on to a brighter human future – together.

      January 29, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Marge

    I have been doing research on my family for years. My earliest ancestor on my fathers side was traced back to about 1737. the odd thing is he was an orphan took his surname and we can't find any name to match male DNA we took from a male direct line descendant. But we hope one day to find out what our real name is. Also still on my father's mother's side. Our relatives were too poor to have slaves. But in the 1840 census I found my great great grandfather had a 40 year old slave but by 1850 where we could find information, she was gone. We can find no record of how he could afford a slave or what happened to her. Could be she really wasn't a slave but since she was black and might have been taken by some other slave owner, my grgrgrandfather took her in and listed her as their slave to save her. Since she disappeared the next census that could be what happened.

    January 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  94. M-AZ - The graves are finally talking.

    My family history is very much like Don's; my great-grand father was from Louisiana, and he too was half white and black; his wife was creole. My mother and some of her siblings, while growing up in Oklahoma, were often ridiculed about their mix ancestry (Scottish-Irish, Native American, and African American). ALL Americans need to know where they come from; that is the only thing that will help us improve our relationships with one another (knowing that so many of us our really cousins not too far removed).

    January 29, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Paul Willson

    I am white , born in England but I have thick lips, so I think readers can duess what I got teased with ! And my skin is a deeper shade of pale . Now given I am adopted and born in port city, Liverpool maybe there is a black in my histiry. Course I'll never know and honestly to me its not important.
    To anyone with a black heritage even if you look as white as the next person br proud and own it,

    January 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marge

      There is a test you can do to find our which heritage you have. They break it down to European, Asian or whatever. But the thing it is so so expensive the average person can't afford it. The only reason this would be important is, if you find your ethetic mixture you could tell which part of Europe/Africa/Asia your ancestors came from.

      January 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • multi-racial rainbow

      There is an affordable test. For $99USD you can received your results from National geogrphaic. They are looking at how migratory patterns have affected shifts in race. It is a very reputable study.

      January 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  96. Robert

    why do so many black people want to be white or have white ancestors. it is no honor to have white relatives

    January 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • RFrazierSr

      We don't have any desire to be white as you put it. It is that when we look into our history or attempt to find out where we are from, there is always hint of white in us. My mother is bi-racial, Born of an unspeakable union between a white man and my grandmother that to this day we cannot get the truth about. Many times it was unthinkable for a white man to take claim to his black child. Would you claim your "Black" heritage that had been denied to you? Many of us don't claim it, especially those whom were born prior to 1970 simply because they didn't claim us, denied ties, hid them. So why would b e be proud of it? While there is a bigorty in the our own community for those of us whom are lighter, speak differently, it is less than attempting to claim this "White" heritage that you speak of.

      January 29, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      All my ancestors are white, and I'm dam proud of them. It's a huge honor to have the ancestors I have. I'm also more than happy to claim my black cousins as my relatives.

      January 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • multi-racial rainbow

      Robert, your question makes no sense. The fact of the matter is Black people as well as Asian people have white ancestors. Here is why it is important to know. You go to the doctor because you have a chronic condition. The doctor cannot figure it out because they think that the patient is 100% black or Asian. However after a discussion they find out the person also has European ancestry which is what is causing the chronic condition. Now the patient can be treated.

      I don't have a problem with the additional racial ancestry I have. Shows humans are suvivors even against adversity. No one can want to be white or Asian or Native American..either you are or you are not. That is what science has learned. You cannot change DNA.

      January 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mimi

      I found this to be an interesting subject–until I got to your comment.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  97. Lindsey

    Good luck with it. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is tremendous. I saw some of the work he did with individuals like Yo-Yo Ma, and it was fascinating. So many of us, whether you have African-American, White European or other ancestry, have this deep curiousity about where we came from and how we got to be who we are.

    January 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  98. jan greer

    Good luck...many of us have interesting characters in our past...I found a plantation owner in Jackson Ms with 36 slaves on the census list. Nobody in my family EVER said anything about that and I was crushed....I only hope that our generation can change so many things...and that the generations after us do even better....but we cannot define who we are by who shares our genes...but by or character..I look forward to your reporting...Jan

    January 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  99. Observer

    Calvin,

    It's better to have gay bloodlines than ignorant bigot bloodlines.

    January 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheryl

      He's a gay bigot.

      January 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Calvin

      I'm black, gay and ignorant. Cool beans!

      January 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joan

      Fool.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  100. Calvin

    How many members of his family were gay? He must have those strong gay bloodlines.... Just one drop....

    January 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheryl

      Bigot.

      January 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Calvin

      Gimme a kiss...

      January 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • Joan

        Not worthy. You are a hateful, disgusting person.

        January 30, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
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