These Historical Figures Were Black?!

October 22, 2014  |  
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These Historical Figures Were Black?!

Source: Bettmann / Getty

J. Edgar Hoover

Hitler’s Jewish ancestry isn’t the strangest twist in racial history. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover — the man who plagued the black liberation movement from Marcus Garvey to the Black Panther Party — was known by his peers as a passing black man.

His childhood neighbor writer Gore Vidal famously quoted, “It was always said in my family and around the city that Hoover was mulatto. And that he came from a family that passed.”

And apparently, that was a closely-guarded secret. Millie McGhee, author of Secrets Uncovered: J. Edgar Hoover Passing For White, said,

“In the late 1950’s, I was a young girl growing up in rural McComb, Mississippi. A story had been passed down through several generations that the land we lived on was owned by the Hoover family. My grandfather told me that this powerful man, Edgar, was his second cousin, and was passing for white. If we talked about this, he was so powerful he could have us all killed. I grew up terrified about all this.”

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