Wordless Wednesday: Walter James Porter, My Dad

I Came across this photo and my father’s body language of having open arms is exactly how he lived life.  His heart was open, he believed in humanity, and he lived life like a millionaire.  He was a friend to all, even if you met him once or knew him for a lifetime.

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Walter J. Porter in his bedroom at 6066 College Avenue, San Diego CA. Photo taken in 1980’s.

What Are My Maternal Genes Saying About Me?

I have always wanted to know my ancestral roots as far back as I can remember. Being adopted somehow heightened my curiosity.  Even though I have had a successful reunion with my biological family, the curiosity of my deep roots have never subsided.  I saw this DNA testing as an opportunity to know more about my ancestral roots and about myself.

Below is an illustration of how sons carry their mother’s DNA and how the daughter passes on her mother’s DNA to her children.  I know very little of biology and will not attempt to pretend that I do…All I know is that Science has advanced so much so over the years, that it has allowed others such as myself to learn more about their maternal line through DNA testing, and so here I am.

In July of 2011, I received an email from the National Urban League(NUL) stating that they were partnering with 23andme, with the intentions of encouraging people of African descent to participate in the testing of their DNA.  The NUL and 23andme stated that there is a lack of participation of African Americans and there is little known about the connection between DNA & Disease in the African American.  I have been a participant of a National longitudinal study of African American Women, and so I also saw this as an opportunity to find out what diseases I may be inheritable to, and find ways that I could prevent those diseases from occurring.

I have always identified as being African American with the knowledge that I have Mexican and some Indian Ancestry.  All I know is DNA doesn’t lie, so here is what some of my information shows….Even though I do not understand what everything means.

My Maternal Haplogroup B2

My maternal Haplogroup is B2 which is found in Native American Ancestry, and U.S. Southwestern Groups.  I believe that B2’s are also found in South America, North America and Asia.

My Ancestry Painting

So what this chart is showing that I am 48% European, 33 % African, and 18% Asian.  Am I surprised…Well, yes and no.  I thought I would be no more than 10% European, 50% African and 40% other.

What I find interesting from my Ancestry painting is that I have no long solid lines.  I am totally intertwined with various colors in the chart.

I am very curious as to what my paternal line has to say about me.  I would be thrilled if I could get one of my father’s brothers to take the DNA test for me, but I think that I will have to at least get one of my brothers soon to do this for me.  On my maternal line, my Uncle and Grandfather recently died and so my hopes of getting anything from my maternal line will be impossible.

Global Similarity

The Global Similarity chart of my DNA revealed that on my Maternal line that my DNA similarity is largely matched in South and North America.

I am hoping that I can get more clarity of my DNA as time goes on.  The 23andme testing has been very valuable to me.  I believe that I will be able to be a part of this health study for awhile.  I am required to complete online surveys on my health, environment and behaviors.  I hope more African Americans participate as this will be most helpful.

The other thing is that many African Americans state they are of Native American Ancestry.  What we need to do is have our DNA studied so that there are more of us and there can be more info as to the actuality of this.  I believe that since there are more Europeans in the DNA bank, they base the Native American Ancestry by their Genes.  If I am mis-stating this, please let me know.

I am sure many of us have watched Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Louis Gates.  He is an advocate for 23andme, and has stated in his program that many African Americans ancestry are of European descent rather than Native American.  I am not sure of his statements because I think until more of us decide to participate we will not have a fuller picture as to our ancestry.

One thing that I know for sure is that I self-identify of the African American culture, so that is what I am.

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 26-Education

Welcome to my Women’s History Month posts.  Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist came up with some wonderful prompts for March, and I have been participating.  I have missed quite a few days but will be moving backwards to catch up.

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

My mother Betty Mae Peters was an excellent student.  She earned a dual bachelors degree in Journalism & English from New York University in 1950.  My mother stated that she did not attend her graduation, and had them mail her degree.  When my mother relocated to Los Angeles in 1953, she attended Pepperdine University to earn her Masters degree in Education.

I believe that my mother would be the first in her family, as a woman to earn a degree from any University.

 

Betty Mae Peters in the New York University School Album of 1950. She resided at 460 West 147th Street, New York, N.Y. She was in the Spanish Club; Dramatic Society; Paragon Society; and National Association for Advancement of Colored People.

 

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 22 – This is “Her” Life.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

If  a famous director wanted to make a movie of one of my ancestor’s it would be about the Cully family and it would be centered around my grandmother Agnes and my mother Betty residing in Sugar Hill.  The many lives of the other family members would be weaved through the life of Agnes.  There would be many scenes portrayed in her sewing room in her apartment where many stories were told.  The main years of the movie would be 1923-1952.

I would like to see Cicely Tyson play my grandmother as she is a star actress, and Angela Bassett  would play my mother because of her elegance.  My mother was very elegant.  The name would either be “The Socialite” or “Sugar”

Marian Anderson and her Fashion Designer Agnes Cully Peters

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 21 – Precious Moments

March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.

My cousin Zara Gale Taylor, who I always referred to as cousin “Z” and Aunt “Z” when I was growing up is my most favorite cousin.  She was always beautiful to me inside and out and she had a voice that you knew God was shining on her life.

Some of my most precious memories of Cousin Z was when I would spend time in her home to visit for a few days.  She always made me feel at home, and would say, “help yourself to anything you may want, this is your home.”

I used to love to watch Z go through her beauty routine.  She had the longest hair and she would take her time washing her hair, giving it an oil treatment and then blow dry her hair and then set it in these big rollers.  She was just absolutely beautiful!  Then she had this routine with her skin, and her make-up.  I think she would go through a three hour treatment of taking care of her hair and skin.  She then would do her nails.

Another thing I enjoyed about going to cousin Z’s house was the cookies she would bake.  She always made raisin oatmeal cookies, butterscotch cookies, chocolate chip and White Chocolate Chip cookies.  Z was amazing.  She not only could bake cookies, sing and be beautiful, but she was the nicest person in the world.

She always encouraged me to go back to school, telling me it is never to late and that I could be anything I wanted to be.

One of the saddest days of my life was when I had to say good-bye.  She passed away November 19, 2005.  I put together a memorial on findagrave.com.  (Click this link to read about her).

Zara Gale Buggs Taylor in January 18, 1997 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educator's Breakfast in San Diego. She was a guest speaker and singer.