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Local woman finds family after 6 decades apart: ‘It was like being reborn’

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 6:00 PM CDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - 64 years. That’s how long one local woman had to wait to meet one side of her family. Diane Spencer says when her father passed away, she and her daughter started looking for their relatives. She tells us about the surprise she was in for when she found them.

When Diane Spencer was young, her father moved their family out of Milwaukee and into the country. Her mother was white. Her father Milton spencer was black but because he was lighter-skinned, told everyone including his family he was Portuguese.

“Through the ’50s and ’60s in Milwaukee, there were a lot of racial issues,” said Diane Spencer-Carr.

Growing up, Diane felt like she may be black and found it weird that she never met her father’s family. After her father died in 1999, Diane and her daughter started looking for their family.

“We knew there was family out there. We knew he had to come from a father and a mother. But we didn’t know the depth of it,” she said.

Through ancestry.com, they found an entire group of relatives they had never met or even heard of. And for the first time, Diane was able to validate what she had suspected she was half black.

“It was like being reborn sort of,” said Diane.

Diane went to Virginia to meet her new family last weekend and celebrated the first federally recognized Juneteenth holiday.

“It was the first time in my life that I was able to celebrate it as a black woman in my black family,” she said.

She says her mother never knew Milton was black. And she never got to ask him why he didn’t tell them sooner.

“I try to reason with it as a parent and of course I forgive them for that. It was about protecting me and my brother. So it was all about love in that case I believe. Our faith tells us that this was the right time. If it had happened sooner maybe it wouldn’t have been so great,” she said.

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