Mozingo: Tracing a Family Name to a Hidden Past

Mozingo: Tracing a Family Name to a Hidden Past

Joe Mozingo set out to research his ancestry, never expecting to find that he's descended from a black slave. (LAT)

If your name is Mozingo, you’re Italian, right? Not so, says Joe Mozingo, who traced his family tree back to a shocking revelation — his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Spencer, was a slave, the direct descendent of “a Negro man.” Traveling from Virginia to Kentucky, North Carolina and Indiana, Mozingo pieced together the story of his ancestry, only to discover that some of the more prejudiced members of his family refused to believe the truth.

The Los Angeles Times three-part detective story incorporates visual highlights from Mozingo’s quest, and explores his soul-searching about what it means to be of mixed race in America, even when most of your relatives look white. The audio slideshow, narrated by Joe, is part of a multimedia package that features chapters detailing his encounters with both black- and white-skinned relatives, and a handy interactive diagram of the Mozingo blood line. Altogether, Joe Monzingo found four distinct branches of his family tree, all originating in the 1600s from an African, Edward Mozingo.

Mozingo’s musings about “where black ends and white begins” give the piece depth, as he connects the mystery of his ancestry to the potential of his young son in the “big continuum.”

CHANNEL: Los Angeles Times

Length: 4:31

Photography and audio by Luis Sinco
Produced by Marc Martin