By Carmen Glover
Retired NBC executive Paula Madison can truly say that she has reached the self actualization phase on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Drawing from her love for family and the desire to trace her roots and forge a connection with all members of her extended family, Madison and her siblings, Elrick and Howard, embarked on a cross-continental quest to find their maternal grandfather, Samuel Lowe. The journey takes Madison and her siblings to the picturesque island of Jamaica, the homeland of their parents, to China, the homeland of their maternal grandfather. The result is the film Finding Samuel Lowe.
At a screening held at the Museum of the Moving Images in Queens, New York last Friday in conjunction with the New York Association of Black Journalists (NYABJ), Madison talked about growing up in Harlem with her mother, after her father was deported back to Jamaica, and observing an air of sadness hovering around her mother, whose face was unquestionably Asian.
“Finding my family has been like filling a hole that existed in my soul. That longing that I had to find my family has been filled. Since I have found my family in China I have been back to China every six months,” Madison stated during a question-and-answer session that followed the screening. “It feels like I’ve been guided my grandfather since I was a child,” she said as she examined various truths that she unearthed during the investigation for the film and the redemption came when the family all met. “When we gathered in China there were over 320 of us and all of us were Lowes.”
The film explores the origins of the Haka clan, a Chinese tribe to which Madison’s ancestry was traced, the history of Chinese indentured servants in the Jamaica, how those servants eventually became entrepreneurs, and the link between the Chinese men who came to work in the cane fields in and the black women in Jamaica bonding and forming families.
The values emphasized in the film, such as respect for education, family and prosperity are stark. Told with no holds barred, Finding Samuel Lowe is an emotional, loving, tribute to a family’s determination to answer the most fundamental of questions: Who am I? It describes a journey that many viewers will be inspired to take so that they, too, can answer that question without reservations.
The screening was attended by a large contingent of NYABJ and NABJ members, current and former NBC employees, and media stars such as former Essence magazine editor Susan Taylor, publicist/author Terrie Williams and Karl and Faye Rodney, publishers of the Carib News. The film, which was directed by Jeannette Kong, will be screened in Jamaica, West Indies on July 30. Visit the website for more information.
Madison has been involved actively in the national and local chapters of the association of black journalists for years. She is now expanding into the Chinese portion of her culture and will release a book detailing her nuanced journey, under the Harper Collins imprint, in February 2015.–OnPointPress.net.