10. Paula Williams Madison: Unearthing Her Roots by Any Means Necessary

Paula Williams Madison has connected with 300 of her Chinese relatives by tracing her roots in Harlem, Jamaica and China.

Paula Williams Madison has connected with 300 of her Chinese relatives by tracing her roots in Harlem, Jamaica and China.

The word on Paula Williams Madison is that she’s a renaissance woman who epitomizes the word fierce. She excels at whatever she does and won’t let anything stand in her way.

Madison has inspired legions of people throughout her life as a print and broadcast journalist, media executive, entrepreneur, team owner, and together sister, mother and wife who has hung out with Prince and danced on stage with his purple badness. Over the past year, Madison has expanded her admiration society globally as she shares her search for family. Listeners have been hanging onto every incredulous word.

Growing up in Harlem, Madison and her two older brothers stood out because the looked different from their Chinese-Jamaican mother. Folks could raise their eyebrows, but they knew not to mess with Nell Vera Lowe or her children.

Throughout her childhood, Madison wanted to learn more about her mother’s side of the family and especially her maternal grandfather. This longing took her on a daunting but exhilarating journey around the world that she chronicles in Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem, a memoir that’s being adapted into a feature film in addition to a documentary that traced her steps.

Madison’s moving story will inspire anyone searching for missing branches of a family tree — especially against the odds. She was so determined that she didn’t consider the possibility of rejection from surfacing out of nowhere nor the cultural challenges of a black woman forming a bond with newly discovered Chinese relatives.

“I knew that I am a Lowe and they will want me as much as I want them.”

And she was right.

She found love along with the deeply planted seeds of determination and entrepreneurship that allowed Madison and her brothers to rise from poverty to wealth. Together, they have built a family enterprise that includes The Africa Channel, which will air the documentary on Jan. 31 and throughout February for their “Know Your Heritage” campaign during Black History Month. And the newly connected descendants of Samuel Lowe are pooling their resources in China, too.

Finding Samuel Lowe Trailer from The Africa Channel US on Vimeo.