I am 0.4% Sub-Saharan African

Mary Jo Latham-Martin,
Houston, TX

After being diagnosed with Essential Tremor, and being told it was hereditary, I started on a quest to learn about the father I never knew. My mom would never talk about him. I did genealogy and DNA testing and found he was a white boy from Kentucky, who was a sailor in WWII. My mom was a Marine and they met in San Diego. The DNA testing showed I have African ancestry. That was a big – but pleasant – surprise for a white girl. Pleasant because I’ve had many Black friends over the years; one of whom told me that that explained why I was so cool.
What wasn’t so pleasant was learning that I had slave-owning ancestors on both sides of my family. That made my heart sink, but it’s likely not that unusual for people with colonial American ancestry. I know I had nothing to do with that, but it pained me to discover that slaves in the early census data were only described by sex and age. It still hurts when I think of that. So, that part of my ancestry is a mystery I’ll never solve.


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