Finding Samuel Lowe depicts tale of love, family, determination, grit

 

Samuel lw

Trailer from the documentary that tells the tale of the cross-continental search to find relatives.

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.

paula madison

Retired NBC executive Paula Madison is greeted by a relative on one of her trips.

“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.

Members of the Lowe family joyously come together in the spirit of love.

Members of the Lowe family joyously come together in the spirit of love.

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.

NABJ13 in Orlando was a mixture of fun, networking and information

 

OnPointPress.net Editorial Director Carmen Glover interacts with CNN Anchor Don Lemon at the  Awards Gala.

OnPointPress.net Editorial Director Carmen Glover interacts with CNN Anchor Don Lemon at the Awards Gala.

By Carmen Glover

For years I have mulled over the idea of attending the NABJ Convention and Career Fair but something always came up, pushing the thought into the deep recesses of my mind. But this year was different and I am very happy that I decided to attend the convention in Orlando, Florida from July 31, to August 4, 2013. During the opening night ceremony, New York’s Chapter won professional chapter of the year and Syracuse University won student chapter of the year. Afterwards, we enjoyed a spectacular presentation and block party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, replete with tasty dishes, lively music and a special Disney show.

OnPointPress Editorial Director Carmen Glover is flanked by Billy Blanks Jr and his wife Sharon after winning raffle.

OnPointPress Editorial Director Carmen Glover is flanked by Billy Blanks Jr and his wife Sharon after winning raffle.

The next morning, I staggered out of bed to participate in the workout session led by Billy Blanks Jr. and his wife Sharon. However, after surviving the grueling hour-long exercise routine, I nearly fainted from shock when I won a raffle held for workout participants. I also enjoyed a delicious mango/pineapple smoothie, courtesy of the McDonald’s booth. Later in the week, I stopped by the Healthy Pavilion to have my Body Mass Index (BMI) read and get dietary tips.

Throughout the four-day convention and career fair, I attended various seminars, met new friends, re-connected with longtime colleagues and had a good time. Among the most compelling sessions were “Conversation with Civil Rights Legend Simeon Booker”; Prudential’s “Cultivating Personal Wealth” moderated by Sharon Epperson of CNBC and featuring panelists such as Ivory Johnson, founder of Delancey Wealth Management, LLC, Michelle Singletary of the Washington Post and LaToya Smith of Black Enterprise; “Talking Heads 2.0” featuring Michael Smith and Jemele Hill of ESPN’s Numbers Never Lie, Arianne Thompson of USA Today and moderated by entertainment reporter Kelley Carter;  “Ethics in Media,” moderated by Randall Pinkston and featuring Trayvon Martin’s parents, “The “Branding of You,” moderated by former NABJ President Will Sutton and featuring Herb Lowe of Marquette University and Paula Madison of Madison Media Management LLC and “A Look at the Future of Magazines,” moderated by Yanick Rice Lamb of Howard University, with panelists including Vanessa Bush, editor-in-chief of Essence, Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, senior editor of Ebony and Keith Reed, senior editor of ESPN the Magazine/Treasurer NABJ.

Adrienne Samuels Gibbs of Ebony, Vanessa Bush of Essence and Keith Reed of ESPN The Magazine discuss the future of magazines.

Adrienne Samuels Gibbs of Ebony, Vanessa Bush of Essence and Keith Reed of ESPN The Magazine discuss the future of magazines.

I especially enjoyed the Awards Gala and the Sunday Gospel Brunch because both events made it easy for attendees to interact, and had great hosts: Don Lemon of CNN and Cari Champion of ESPN for the former and Syan Roberts of WESH-TV and Rod Carter of WFLA-TV for the latter.  It was also interesting observing folks swarming around singer Tyrese at the screening of the upcoming movie Black Nativity. The screening of the film, 12 Years a Slave was poignant while subsequent discussion with its stars Alfre Woodard, Lupita Nyong’o and the film’s director, Steve McQueen, was enlightening. During the Sports Task Force Scholarship Jam at the House of Blues, Hugh Douglas had unflattering words for his Numbers Never Lie co-host Michael Smith.

Bob Butler was voted the new NABJ President at the event.

Bob Butler was voted the new NABJ President at the event.

Bob Butler, who participated in the workout session, became the newest NABJ President, in an election that had an alarmingly low participation rate of less that 45% of the overall membership. Tv One’s Roland Martin was named journalist of the year and Gregory L. Moore of the Denver Post received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Disney’s Carmen J. Smith accepted Dr. Shelley Stewart’s Community Service Award on his behalf. Several of the moderators listed in the journal were no shows at the convention but the events went on smoothly. I left the convention loving the world of journalism even more, while being concerned by the changes looming on the horizon for print journalism. See you in Boston next year!  –OnPointPress.net.