Police Commissioner Paula Madison embraces her multicultural heritage
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – With a documentary and a book about her cross- cultural roots about to be released, Los Angeles Police Commission Vice President Paula Madison today introduced several members of the Chinese side of her family — who are visiting from Hong Kong and England — to her fellow board members.
Madison, who is black and Chinese descent, embarked on a quest two years ago to find other descendants of her Chinese grandfather Samuel Lowe, a shopkeeper in Jamaica.
That search and subsequent reunion with her long-lost relatives in China is the subject of the documentary, “Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China,” which is being shown at film festivals. The family’s saga will be contained in a book due out in February.
“My Chinese grandfather was in Jamaica,” said Madison, a former journalist and NBC executive. “He had children who are full Chinese and children who are half-Chinese and half-black. Guess which group I am from.”
One of her Chinese relatives, a police official who heads the anti-fraud and narcotics unit of Chinese customs for the Guangdong Province, presented a painting of a goldfish to police Chief Charlie Beck.
In an interview with MSNBC, Madison said her grandfather went to Jamaica to work in the sugar cane fields. He returned to China when her mother was 3 years old.
“My mother was conceived, born and the rest of his (my grandfather’s) family later on in life was not aware of her,” Madison told Witt. “My mother had always wondered where her father was, and I had been a trained journalist and historian … so I decided there would come a day when I would retire and … spend the rest of my time … searching for my grandfather’s family in China.”
She and her siblings ended up finding about 300 of her Chinese relatives, eventually forming a multinational investment business with them, Madison said.
She told Witt that while she identifies as African American and Jamaican- American, she always knew she had a Chinese grandfather, something that was apparent because her mother looked Chinese.
“Being three kids in Harlem, looking the way we looked, with a mother looking the way our mother looked, always prompted surprise in people,” she said.
The discovery of a whole new branch of her family also fulfilled a desire for more relatives, Madison said.
“We just didn’t have any relatives here,” in Harlem, where her mother moved to when the Chinese immigration quota was lifted, she said.