Spike Lee (1957-), Director, on Who Do You Think You Are


Spike Lee was featured on the seventh episode of the genealogy-related show called Who Do You Think You Are?

Spike Lee’s Story
Spike Lee is one of America’s best-known film directors. He has done more than anyone in his generation to bring African-American history and experience to the screen. The name of his production company, 40 Acres and a Mule, refers to the broken promise made by the federal government to provide ex-slaves with land and a mule. However, Spike does not know much about his mother’s slave ancestry and in this journey he hopes to discover more about his slave roots and the people who owned his ancestors.

Spike Lee

Known primarily for his films exploring issues of race, and for his fairly angry attitude on race and racism, I was fascinated watching him learn that he is descended from a white slaveowner, and even meeting white descendants of that same slaveowner, and how he handled it all.

I think he handled it with surprising maturity, almost definitely better than I would have handled being confronted by the incontrovertible facts proving my own deepest angers and inequalities.

Megan Smolenyak on The Huffington Post had the best writeup of the WDYTYA exploration of Spike Lee’s personal genealogy.

While I found his soul searching fascinating, I was drawn deeper into the story for personal reasons when the name of the slaveholder family was revealed as Griswold.

While the show was still on, I was all over ancestry.com, following their research, and proving that his Griswolds and my Griswolds were the same family.

Since we are cousins, I feel that I have every right to end all of my future posts with the following:

A Jerry Milo Johnson Joint.

Spike Lee is my 11th cousin once removed.

Spike Lee to Jerry Milo Johnson


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