After decades of questions, uncertainty, woman with local ties has better understanding of her lineage

diane spencer-carr family.JPG
Posted at 4:17 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 17:34:12-04

NORFOLK, Va. - It was a question Diane Spencer-Carr had for decades: Was there more to her lineage than she thought?

"I was more or less led on to believe I was white,” Spencer-Carr said. "I have tighter-curled hair, I looked different from my other siblings."

Her mother was white, but her dad was Black and passed for white. When she would ask questions about his background, Spencer-Carr said those questions were never fully answered.

"When he registered for the selective service in 1944, he would take that card and change 'B' for black to 'W' and just move on, and nobody questioned it," Spencer-Carr said. "He had always been on the Census, back in the early days, as 'negro.'"

She found all that out online, but Spencer-Carr believes there was a reason her father denied his race and her questions.

"He, I believe, did it with good intentions,” Spencer-Carr said. “I think during the tumultuous times in the Civil Rights era where I grew up in the city of Milwaukee, in particularly 1968, I was about 12 or 13, there were riots going on all over the country."

While her father did not provide information, she discovered family contact information in her research.

"I found a cousin related to me, these current cousins, through their mother, not the father," Spencer-Carr said.

That cousin turned out to be Karen Spencer. She was one of several of Spencer-Carr’s cousins residing in Hampton.

"I get a call that there's a girl claiming she's my uncle Milton's daughter,” Spencer said. “I go into shock, my sisters are there."

Spencer-Carr got the answers she searched for for decades. Both women spoke and shared stories.

"More than enough proof that she belonged to the Spencer tribe, as my father said,” Spencer said. "She showed up right on time."

Both cousins said Spencer and her close relatives will go down to Georgia to meet up with Diane and the rest of the family.

The lesson, Spencer-Carr said: "Never give up, right, Karen?" To which Spencer replied, "Never give up!"