Paula Madison knew she'd one day reunite with her long-lost grandfather's family; but she had no idea that tracing her ancestry would steep her in thousands of years of Chinese history. A new documentary chronicles her journey.
During their childhood spent in Harlem, retired NBC Universal executive Paula Madison and her two brothers knew they were different. On strolls through their predominantly black neighborhood with their mother, Nell Vera Lowe-who was half Jamaican and half Chinese-their obvious Asian heritage made them magnets for stares and questions about their ethnicity.
Madison remembers her mother as a melancholy woman whose gloominess stemmed from a sense of abandonment that lingered from her childhood in Jamaica. After her own parents split, Lowe's father-Madison's grandfather Samuel Lowe-returned in 1933 to his native China with wealth acquired from his successful retail business in Jamaica, unable to have contact with his daughter again.
Eventually immigrating to New York City in 1945 and becoming a single parent to a family of her own, Nell Lowe persistently instilled in her children that family should always come first.