July 23rd, 2008
03:40 PM ET

Meeting cousin Rubystein...

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/23/art.bia.martha.jpg caption="Martha Rand Hix and Rubystein McGhee "]

Editor's note: Martha Rand Hix is the great, great grandchild of William Harrison Rand, who had children with his white wife and children with his black mistress in the 1800s. She has a black cousin named Rubystein McGhee, whom she met at a family reunion in Lodi, Texas.

Martha Rand Hix

The truth of the matter is, the best part of genealogy has always been the cousins.

When Rubystein McGhee said we’re kin, I already knew there were black Rands from East Texas. What I didn’t know was exactly how Rubystein’s Harold Rand related to my great-great-grandfather, William Harrison “Hal” Rand, 1822-1909.

Hal brought the Rand family to Cass and Marion counties of Texas in the early 1850s, from Alabama via Mississippi. What I hadn’t known? That Hal’s mixed-race love, Ann Mullins Rand, later Ann Alsbrook, also brought the Rand family to East Texas. Hal, aka Harold, had two families, all riding west in the same wagon.

Once I realized Rubystein’s Harold Rand was also my Hal Rand, I couldn’t stop the thrill. This lovely lady is my third cousin! In genealogy, that’s kissin’ cousins.

One of the first things she did was invite the Hixes to the Rand reunion in Shreveport, Louisiana. What a good excuse to meet this interesting cousin, to meet even more of the Rands, and to dress up.

This, you see, was no bring-a-dish family reunion. There were fashion shows and costume parties; even the kids participated in events, all in a nice hotel. A scholarship presentation highlighted the activities.

Trouble was, my husband and I had a scheduling conflict, and it was the same for the next reunion, Atlanta 2007. The part I most missed? Hugging Cousin Rubystein in person.

By 2007, I had grown quite fond of my retired-educator, textbook-author cousin. We often exchanged e-mails, and sometimes talked on the telephone. Then folks at CNN asked if I had an interest in meeting her. If they arranged for the two of us to meet at the cemetery, the last resting place of our great-great-grandfather, would I show up?

Does a duck quack!

My husband, granddaughter, and I sailed off to East Texas. The moment Cousin Rubystein and I grabbed each other for a hug, it was like I’d known her forever. The soft yet durable sash of kinship and friendship tightened around us. This, I knew, was truly meant to be.

This did not happen at the cemetery, though. We’d been told to arrive at Cousin Thelma’s home. There, a large group of people stood waiting. I swallowed. Back in Kerrville, Soledad O’Brien mentioned that some people might not wish to meet us, and I couldn’t help but wonder if we were being set up for a TV moment.

It wasn’t that way at all.

These cousins opened their arms to my bunch of newbie Rands. From young Willie Sheppard who got interested in genealogy in grade school, to several daughters of the late Lonnie and Johnie Rand, to Dick Rand’s granddaughter (the aforesaid, lovely Thelma)—and to Darlene and John, and Adella and Tracy, not to mention Cousin Rubystein’s daughter, Audrey—they each greeted my family and I as COUSINS, smiling and warm.

Like I’ve always said, cousins are the best part of genealogy. It couldn’t be truer than with the Rands. Thank you, Cousin Rubystein, for getting in touch, and for giving me this gift of wonderful family.

Below are some photos from when Martha met Rubystein:

Door of No Return
Cousins meeting for the first time

Door of No Return
Martha Rand Hix and Rubystein McGhee hold up portrait of their great, great grandfather, William Harrison Rand. Rand had children with his white wife and children with his black mistress in the 1800s.

Door of No Return
Rubystein McGhee and Martha Rand Hix

Door of No Return
Soledad O'Brien with Martha and Rubystein

For more on the Rand family tree:

DNA provides clues to family’s African roots | Slideshow

Filed under: Black in America
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. robinc

    as i member of the family in houston the Smith- i was so proud to see the whole Rand family -and know the love we are shown thru bro Gary Smith 5th WArd church of Christ is real. My children and i are blessed to be a part of all the goodness and love that this family shows toward each other. Thank God for you all. Please keep showing the positive side of our blacks in america Love Ya Robin Carter

    July 24, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  2. Martha Rand Hix

    Rand Web site. No, unfortunately, we don't have one at the moment. I used to run the e-Agathas.com site, but a friend of mine was giving the server space free, and I got to the point where I couldn't impose on her any longer...and, frankly, I was too busy with work to keep up with it. I wish we had someone who would put up a site, where all Rands could blog, could get or give information, whatever. I have a lot of information I could share. I posted some of it at RootsWeb.com. So have numerous other researchers. Start there. Well, start by writing down WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT YOUR PARENTS, GRANDS, GREAT-GRANDS. Names, where they lived, children, etc., then go searching at Rootsweb.com or one of the other sites. HAPPY HUNTING!

    July 24, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  3. Martha Rand Hix

    Firstly, I must comment to Cousin Tigner, who was one of the organizers of the Rand reunion in Atlanta last year. He has done tireless work on the family history, as has Linnie Bedenfield of Chicago. Linnie and I have been exchanging Rand information for about eight years. They are both special cousins-of-the-heart.

    As for the "northern" Rands, several of the cousins and I have tried to make a connection to the southern Rands, who started out in Smithfield, VA. We were not successful. There is probably a connection back in Jolly Olde England, but we've not proved our William Rand's ancestry. There are several Rand message boards on the Internet, such as at the Rootsweb.com. I think this particular board is free, but if money is a problem GO TO YOUR LIBRARY. Libraries have subscriptions to the lineage societies, plus census records. (I'm probably out of room here, so I will post another message...)

    July 24, 2008 at 2:26 pm |
  4. Veronica

    I am so interested in history. I think we need to know where we came from. We probably should have started when Alex Haley did his, maybe we would be finished by now. After watching Ms. Ruby, I wanted to get right on the Internet a find a way to communicate with her. I think what she did was amazing. And then when she mentioned her grandfather had been in Virginia, I wondered could there have been some legacy there?

    My mother does not want to help me with my searching and I think that it is a shame. She tells me to forget about it. Anything I try to accomplish, she tells me to forget about it. I've never had that encouragement to go forward and all she reminds me of what I didn't want to do or negative stuff that I don't want to remember. I started my research about two years ago. I haven't found exactly what I want to find. My interest in finding history was to revalitaize the cemetery, becasuse I have always heard that negative comment that, you can always tell a Black Cemetery because they don't keep it up. Well, for some reason ever since I saw and touched my grandmother's stone, I have this urge to clean it and fix the others and give stones/or regonitization to others. I wrote up a proposal for restoring the tombstones and I haven't heard back from the Trustee of the church that I gave it to.

    I was eletated about the Smith family that had the 6 kids, and had their own construction company. Some pictures can be made up, but they look like the picuture of LOVE.

    I hope that one day, I can communicate with Ms. Ruby to ask her for some tips.

    July 24, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  5. Deanna Smith

    I couldn't believe it when I heard this story! Rubystein and Martha are our cousins that we never knew we had. We always knew that there was a family secret and now it is out! When my uncle heard this story on the t.v. last night, he was beside himself! He in turn called my mother, who then called me. None of us could have imagined that we had black cousins. William Rand is my great great great great grandfather. His daughter Rebecca had Blanche, who then had Athaline, who is was my great grandmother. We knew that William Rand came from Alabama by buggy with his wife and children and then settled in Lodi, but what we didn't know were the extra people in the buggy with them! So when the story was told, the names and place, there was just too many coincidences. These people had to be our family. Today I found a way online to contact Rubystein. I can't even begin to describe the joy that conversation brought. We talked about family history and exchanged stories, I learned so many things about my family history in just 30 minutes of talking to her. I cannot thank CNN enough for airing this story.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:29 pm |
  6. Pam Clasquin

    My grandmother was the great granddaughter of William Harrison Rand.
    Her mother was Blanche, daughter of Rebecca and granddaughter of Salllie. Our family is amazed at this story. We always knew there was a history that we did not all know about and now the story explains the missing links in the family tree. Thank you so much for this story.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  7. Sharon

    Yep! I wonder how many white folk are shaking in their shoes because they are afriad that a black relative might come knocking on their door? We're all mixed with something.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:00 pm |
  8. Dr, R. Helton

    Rubystein, I was so delighted to see you on television in such an important peice of information. I was even more excited that you and I grew up there in Marshall, Texas. Having been baptized by your father, I have a special memory of him and you. Being in the same high school at the same time, I always admired your enthusiam for getting things done. You have motivated many of us to delve into our past. Keep up the good work.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:53 pm |
  9. Thom Brown

    Genealogy has been one of the biggest questions asked for cenuries by many races of colour. Who am I? Where do I come from?
    I studied genealogy in Canada and one thing that I learned early is that there is no "pure" race, obviously this is hard for the ignorant to accept.
    I am a Canadian but Afro-Americans must remember that their ancestors came to Canada and some Kin remained. I am a decendant of such a history. I have a Jefferson ancestor that was born on a Indian reserve in Virgina in the 1800's. I am also related to William Parker of the Christiana, Pennsylvania Riot. My blood ties also take in the "Van Deursens" of the New Netherlands in what is now called New York. Canada is very rich in Black history and everyone has a story worth telling.
    Genealogy can teach us about genetic diseases and traits of what was thought to be habit. Charles Brown of Virginia was interviewed in a book written by Benjamin Drew that chronicled the narratives of slaves that now live in Canada. Charles went on to state that when he laboured for a period of time, he would become very winded. That geneitc health puzzle is now known to be "athsma."
    Blacks were not only slaves to white masters but other Blacks, aboriginals and other races as well. Yes, Blacks have an amazing part to play in history.
    P.S. I have always wanted to tell someone that Soledad O'Brien is one of the prettiest news Journalists ever.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:50 pm |
  10. Lolita Ferrell

    I am was very touched by the Rand family. This family is the epitome of an Africian-American family. I realize why this family was chosen. They have a good mix of every ill that effects the African-American community.

    July 24, 2008 at 8:44 am |
  11. JAY W.

    Doing yourgenealogy is a wonderful thing, there is such a wonderful feeling that comes when you find information about your history rather good or bad.

    I grew up without a father, not because he walked out on me, but he died when I was very young, so I grew up not knowing much about him at all, and one day I decided I wanted to know everything about him.

    two years later, I had found his family back to the early 1840's, found detail information about the man, his family, his story, his life, and I almost fell over, while they went back to 1859 free, and before that date, I traced them back to No. Carolina.

    My mothers family also went back to 1830, freed in 1860 Monroe Mississippi, but came out of No. Carolina, I encourage everyone, to research their family history, not for yourself, but for those that will follow.

    July 24, 2008 at 2:36 am |
  12. Halbert J. Rand

    Rand is a very uncommon last name and when I hear someone who has the last name of Rand, I become very interested to find out if there is somekind of bloodline connection.

    My name is Halbert J. Rand and I was born in Jackson, Mississippi. I live in Los Angeles California and have been here since 1970. One of my aunts sat down with me one day and trace our family tree back to the mid 1800’s. The last indivdual that could be traced had lived in Alabama and ended up moving and settling in Mississippi. I’ve never been told that we had family in Texas, but you never know.

    Is there a family reuion web site that I can contact? I very much would like to know if we have a bloodline connection. Thanks.

    July 24, 2008 at 1:24 am |
  13. Terry Robertson

    I really enjoyed watching this show. Very well done. I was born and raised in Harlem, New York and often wonder about my family roots. The show did a great job showing the plight of being black in this great country of America. I applaud CNN, and also Mr. Oboma for the fact that we face for the first time in history of having a Black Man as President that brings these issues to light. Terry

    July 24, 2008 at 1:13 am |
  14. Dianne, Matteson, IL

    Thank you CNN and Ruby for an excellent portrayal of the joys and pains of our family(s) in your "Black In America " documentary. Ruby and I worked together at Metcalfe Commuunity Academy for many years. She always proudly shared the pictures of the Rand Family reunions and gave us tips on putting a reunion together. The Ruby I saw in your program is the same Ruby I remember, with a genuine and sincere heart. It was a delight to see her family showcased. This program is a must see for all families!

    July 24, 2008 at 12:52 am |
  15. JuJu

    Also, Michael, although it is nice of you to offer your sympathies to Don...I don't feel it is necessary to apologize on behalf of blacks any more so than it is for Michael to apologize for whites. All we can do is sympathize and make sure that we, and our children, do not participate in actions like that. It really upsets me when I see a black person commit a crime and people attribute it to him being black..."that's what they do". I DO NOT think black people doing things like attacking an innocent student is the reason why racism exists. I think it's actually the opposite in many cases. I think much of the crime that takes place in the black community is due to frustration of our circumstances and feelings of worthlessness. I think many parents past those frustrations down to their kids. I think than many kids feel like they are so powerless...and having a gun or commiting acts of violence makes them feel empowered. i am speaking on the community as a whole and not for your situation Michael. Of course I do not know the young men, so I can't say what their motivations were. They could have just been very bad kids.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:40 am |
  16. Marquita

    This is a fascinating article. My girlfriend called me about the show. I found it interesting because we had a "Rand Family Reunion" last year in Memphis. Another one is scheduled for next year in Huston. I'll have to get in touch with a cousin to forward him this information. There is a lot of us and now I think there is even more out there.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:39 am |
  17. JuJu

    I'm originally from Lodi, and when the story came on a minute ago, I was not paying attention until I heard "Lodi, Texas". I'm so glad I didn't miss that story. Thanks to the Rands for making America apart of it/.

    July 24, 2008 at 12:26 am |
  18. Confidential

    I am from an African Country until 2005 when i came to North America.
    I never know that i am black until i came to North America. I can also say will all sense of responsibilty that even though, we are poor, even though we are in the worst state in comparsion to all men on earth...North american black dont have a sense of belonging..growing up in a society without a sense of belonging, or living in inferiority is worse than poverty and sickness.....let the fathers of america re-think their ways..both black and white....

    July 24, 2008 at 12:09 am |
  19. Dwaine K. A. Hicks Markham,IL

    This Is A Very Good Segment For Those Blind To What A Lot Of Poor & Minorites ALREADY Know From Experience. One Thing About Discrimination Is You Don't Really Know It Unless You've Been A Victom Of It. It Would Be Nice if It Was Longer, But You Got To Have Sponsors. Which Race Will Be Next? Mexicans, Puerto-Ricans, & The Long Forgot Native Americans?
    Is There A Way To Research Your Roots For Free Or Reasonable?

    July 23, 2008 at 11:58 pm |
  20. Cassandra in Cleveland

    This is really beautiful. It is good to see the two ladies like eachother and have been communicating. We all have a mixture of different races in us. Most of us have more than we know in our blood line. That makes me even more curious about the title ' African-American.'
    To me this title means that a person was born in Africa and moved to America and became a U.S. citizen. So why don't we call 'White' people by some other name? They came to America by boat as well.

    July 23, 2008 at 11:45 pm |
  21. Nicole Woods-Adrow (Chicago, IL)

    Hi, Mrs. McGhee.....(I'm a former student/Metcalfe) I hate I missed the chance to see you on TV meeting your cousin. My sister called me when she recognised you and told me about the wonderful story that you were apart of. I used to always wonder as a third grader about how you got your red freckles :O)...now i finally know.

    July 23, 2008 at 11:42 pm |
  22. Tigner Rand

    Searching for my family roots has been a life long desire. it was not until 2006 when many unanswered questions were answered I was introduced to Martha Rand Hix who "took a liking to me" and helped find another branch of the Rand family which connects me with family I never knew exsisted! I'm grateful for the connection. The research is long and hard but my road has just begun!

    July 23, 2008 at 11:35 pm |
  23. NIKKI

    It is obvious that when their are connecting fibers of unity, the united family will thrive no matter the odd.
    The whites, Asians and some Arabs may look diverse and seperated but deep in their hearts they remain families.
    Blacks were not only never together at heart but against each other.
    I have traveled all around the world and have lived, studied with all sorts of races.
    I have never found a race so divided in the history of manking like the blacks. It is almost as if most blacks have no principle but willgo for everything.
    A white block will rather leave you alone than take your money to betray his brohter.
    The Jews, wherever they are connect and are proud to teach their and the whole world children about holocust.
    Most black world either knows nothing about slavery or do not want to hear about it hence keep falling for the slavery baits(money)t
    I am black and sometimes wonder why blacks failed to learn from slavery.
    In my own opinion, as long as blacks (especially Africans) refuse to acknoledge the effect of slavery and to shy away from the culture that brought that slavery (economic, religious, political), blacks will never get the position deserved in our world. For now, everyone for himself principle will only darken the black world the more.

    July 23, 2008 at 11:27 pm |
  24. Myrtle Rand-Poindexter

    I am very much interested in talking to members of the rand family because i think that we are related. I saw the story on cnn Black in America. I live in Michigan, I have 3 brothers and 3 sisters. My father is John Charles Rand Sr. Please help me get some information. thank-you

    July 23, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  25. Michael

    To Don,

    As an African-American male let me offer my apologies for what you and your son have suffered; believe me, I know what it's like, and what you've experienced is one of the reasons why racism still exists. Racism is an ugly topic yet some people find it easier to ignore it rather than confron it, which is the absolute worse thing you can do. It's like a cancer; if you ignore it it'll only get worse.
    This is an interesting topic, and I suspect that cases such as the Rand family are more common than what many people think.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:38 pm |
  26. G D LOWE

    In her deeply moving book, "Don't Play in the Sun", Marita Golden reveals the painful truth displayed in the many colors of the Black rainbow. But the history and DNA of the Rand family explains that it was white men who first crossed the color line.

    July 23, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  27. Tavio Rand

    does this rand family have a web site so i can trace it and see do i line up with it ?

    July 23, 2008 at 10:26 pm |
  28. Tavio Rand

    I am Tavio Rand from Meridian,Ms Me and my brother are the only Rands here we would like to contact these Rands because their Rand family in texas branched from Ms and Al. I only know my Dads and his Dads name so if someone would contact me from the Rand family i would love to see if we are Kin folks

    July 23, 2008 at 9:36 pm |
  29. Felicia Smith

    What I thought was really funny was when my aunt called and said they're talking about our family on CNN. I turned the the show and hear all the names of my uncles and grandmother. I now wonder if we are a part of the family as well. My grandfather was named Eddie Rand and he named his son Hal Rand. I just found it to be such a coincidence. I looked at Rubystein and see some of my mother's features in her face. This is such a small world.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  30. Joy Rand Blathers

    I think it is a great thing to be able to trace your family tree. Of course, I was interested because I am a Rand. Although I do not know anything about my ancestors, I wish that I could find out so that I can pass the knowledge on to my own child. Your family (both sides) look very happy at the reunion. I pray that your continued reunions will be as blessed as the 2005 was.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  31. Eric

    CNN should make this documentary freely redistributable for educational purposes. It has a very powerful message of unity that children need to see and hear.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  32. robert hunt

    My children [ daughters 10 and 14 ] are mixed race. Im white. My wife is "black" , I suppose, being brown and from Haiti, though both her great grandfathers were Frenchman. For the 2000 census, I purposely left the race boxes unchecked on the government form, personally feeling that racial categories are unnecessary, and these statisitics actually work against social harmony. Do you know, they sent census takers to my house to try and get an an answer and get those the boxes checked ? Why is it so important to label them ? Why do other mixed people feel they must choose ? { Soledad included } They are beautiful citizens of the world, and the children themselves do not identify as either white or black. Can you imagine that ? Perfect.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  33. judy carrier case

    So interesting, and caught my eye because my mother's maiden name was RAND. We had many Rand Family Reunions here in Connecticut! I wonder if we're any relation.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:15 pm |
  34. james rippey

    I am sending this comment because i saw the show in cnn and my mom whos dad and my grandfather was Robert Rand sr. I would like to know who or where i could getthe family tree because there is a lot of Rand in Columbue Ohio.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:14 pm |
  35. Bigben

    It is hard not to drink from the cup of bitterness, but refrsain we must. We have been defined by a systrem in which we did nto participate. The conversation on who we are took place without us. Now that we are part of the conversation, it is the opportunity for us to tell our story, a postive story about overcoming a history. The walls of Jericho will fall with out revealation of who we are. Our aspirration is the American aspiration. We have learnt to include. So open your heart and listen, we will come in- we are knocking. A gentle knock, answer the call. Colour is not a precondition.

    July 23, 2008 at 9:04 pm |
  36. Jenifer

    I hope this series helps our society to be more accepting of all people. It frustrates me to see the "us" versus "them" mentality so often. Hopefully this will also help to dissolve the stigma around interracial marriage. In other countries skin color is never considered in marriage rather features that can be chosen such as religion or culture are considered. No one can choose their skin color. It is time to stop making judgments about people because of how they look. Personally I believe that interracial children are exceptionally beautiful. Our family recently found out that we are not just western European mutts; we are also share ancestry with Native Americans. I also have many interracial first and second cousins. I hope to have interracial children of my own some day. I think it is time to start mixing things up.

    July 23, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  37. Don

    We have had the exact opposite problem. Our son was racially targeted for bullying for two years because he is white. The district finally got tired of our monthly meetings and told him he was not allowed to go to his classes if a sub was in the room and he was not allowed to use the hallway restrooms. He was to use the nurse's restroom. I guess it was easier to shuffle the victim around the school than deal with the racial problems.

    July 23, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  38. Eugenia - San Francisco

    This was a really lovely story. Family and heritage are all very important!

    July 23, 2008 at 8:30 pm |
  39. Tesa Pinckney in Savannah, GA

    I think everyone should research their roots. all races. My last name made me start tracing mine. "Pinckney" is not a common name in New Jersey where I am from, but is very common here in the South.. The research is slow going but it will be worth it.

    July 23, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  40. Annie Kate

    Genealogy research is fascinating – you never know what might turn up in your family tree. I've been doing it for years and since the inception of the internet it has been amazing how much easier it is to research and to get in touch with distant cousins. In fact, I got an email one day from a cousin who was descended from the brother of my great grandfather. All we knew about the brother was that he had gone west – with her help we put together his history from before he left Tennessee to afterwards up to and including his death. In doing so we could finally tell the story of this long lost brother and fill in over a hundred years of his and his families history where we used to just have two words on him "Went West". We even shared pictures back and forth through email of the people we researched – helping to give flesh and bone to the names in our files. Its been a remarkable journey.

    Like the Rands though no matter what we discover about the past of our family its the current cousins that are the biggest thrill – it certainly makes you feel like you are part of a much larger family and aren't so out there on your own. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 23, 2008 at 8:20 pm |
  41. Jolene

    I saw the excerpt of the Rand family reunion earlier this week on CNN and thought how cool is this family. Being able to meet a "kissin' cousin" justs adds frosting to the cake. Makes me want to research my family roots too! Thanks for sharing.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    July 23, 2008 at 8:18 pm |
  42. Larry

    I've been working on my family tree for some 9 years, wish I had started it about 20 years earlier when more of my relatives were about to give me more insight on their lives. Genealogy has become a passion for me 🙂 I think everybody should have a 'designated' genealogist in the family.

    July 23, 2008 at 8:14 pm |
  43. Martha Rand Hix

    Jennifer, interesting you should say that. Looking at these pictures, I've thought the same thing. That delights me, because Cousin Rubystein is just the prettiest thing. (And a more interesting person, you could NEVER meet.)

    Did you see the picture of our Cousin Mineola Johnson? She's was the source for the DNA study. When I saw her picture, I gasped, because she looks so much like my dad's first (and favorite) cousin, Ethel. Ethel lived to be almost 100–Cousin Mineola is 102–but the resemblance is in the eyes.

    Pretty cool, IMHO!

    July 23, 2008 at 7:45 pm |
  44. Rubystein McGhee

    May of 2005, the Rand family of East Texas were preparing for the 13th Biennial RAND Family Reunion to be held in Shreveport, LA in July, 2005. At the committee meeting, my Cousin Thelma presented each family member with a copy of the picture of William Harrison 'Hal' Rand. I was so excited, because he is my great-great grandfather.

    Much to my delight, I went home and started researching information on the internet about him. At this time, I met my Cousin Martha via the internet. I learned that she was the genealogy researcher providing much of the material that I received. She is also the owner of the original picture of William Harrison 'Hal' Rand, and he is her great-great grandfather. (We have different great-great grandmothers).

    It has been a wonderful experience for the RAND family to meet Cousin Martha and family. We keep in contact and share family information. We appreciate the CNN team, and we are proud to be a part of the documentary 'Black in America'. We hope that our story will inspire others to explore their family heritage.

    July 23, 2008 at 6:59 pm |
  45. Jennifer Hodge

    wow that is so cool.i'm looking at the pictures and you all look alike you have the same nose...i think the dna thing is great congradulations on your new found family.

    July 23, 2008 at 6:44 pm |
  46. Martha Rand Hix

    Genealogy has been a big part of my life for the past thirty years, but I was interested even earlier. An odd kid, I did listen to my parents, when they talked about family. It's a good thing I listed, because my mother and father, and only brother, were gone by the time I was 18. For my research, I wrote down what I knew, and worked from a 2-page list, "History of the Southern Branch of the Rand Family, Since 1776." With those, I went to the Clayton Genealogical Library in Houston...and I talked to every relative who would talk with me. That was the 1970s. I have discovered many, many, many of my ancestors, and I've found out a lot about them. But like I said in the blog, this long journey of discovery has been made especially wonderful from getting to know my living relatives, the cousins. Meeting Rubystein and the rest of the Rands has just been so satisfying, so much fun. I recommend it all HIGHLY.

    July 23, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  47. Roxk Lives

    I was aware of this story..
    I appreciated seeing this coverage..
    Nice job Ms. O'Brien

    July 23, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  48. renita wallace hutcherson

    I didn't get a chance to see this documentary and I wish I had. But family is family regardless of race. They are not like friends...you don't get to pick your relatives, they just are. And if we all had the time and resources to search our family tree we'd be surprised at just how many "white or "black" cousins we have. Accept them for what they are and who they are.....family.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  49. CeCee R.

    This is absolutely wonderful. I have been wondering about how to go about the process of finding my roots. I am an only child and bothe of my parents are deceased, so I at times feel discouraged. But if you can go back over 100 years with DNA. I am now –inspired. Thank you for this informative article.

    July 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  50. Virginia Kollock

    I thought this was an amazing documentary. It brought tears to my eyes. It prompted me want to research my historic roots. Job well done Ms. O'Brien!!!!!!!!!

    July 23, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
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