Paula Madison shocked her colleagues when she walked away from television in October, 2011. She was 58 and an executive vice president at NBC.
"I wanted to find my family," she told me. "I knew that everything I had done, from majoring in black studies at Vassar College to studying the Caribbean and China, then being a reporter and developing my world view, all of this, I realize was getting me ready for something."
It was getting her ready to report the greatest story of her life. Her own.
Paula Williams Madison and her brothers Elrick and Howard grew up in Harlem, raised by their immigrant single mother Nell Vera Lowe. There was a time when they depended on welfare to get by. Paula recalls a lecture from her mother. "I came home from elementary school one day and handed my mother my grade card. She told me 'I did not come to this country for you to get a B. I came to this country for you to be wealthy.'"
It was an extraordinary vision with, it turns out, deep roots. Paula and her brothers didn't look like most black people in Harlem. They had no relatives there. There was something different about their facial features.