According to the oral history passed down through eight generations of her family, retired pediatrician Bettye Kearse is a descendant of the enslaved cook Coreen and her enslaver, and half-brother, President James Madison. Dr. Kearse tells her family's story in the acclaimed memoir -- "The Other Madisons: The Lost Story of a President’s Black Family" -- and the subject of an eponymous documentary film.
Join Bettye to learn what it means to be an African American descendant of a slaveholding president and how that meaning evolved over eight generations of her family. Bettye will also describe her quest to walk in the footsteps of her enslaved ancestors so that she could confront head-on the whole story.
"The Other Madisons" has garnered strong reader and editorial reviews. It earned an International Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society’s Book Award for Nonfiction and was listed by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the top ten best history books of 2020 and by Kirkus as one of the best nonfiction books of 2020.
"The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President's Black Family" took some thirty years of research and writing and rewriting. It is both a personal family history and an homage to millions of silenced, invisible African Americans. This memoir is an intimate work of narrative nonfiction that discovers, discloses, and embraces a more inclusive and complete American story.
In recounting the struggles, perseverance, and contributions of eight generations of my family, "The Other Madisons" illustrates that enslaved Africans possessed hope and inner strength, by which they survived, and talents, by which they contributed mightily to America. Then they passed down these same qualities to their descendants. It is my dream that "The Other Madisons" will inspire those descendants to nurture and use their own inner strengths and talents not only to fulfill their hopes but to make contributions to our country and the world.