Famed Film Producer, Spike Lee
I suppose that tonight's finale, with producer Spike Lee was somewhat of an anticlimactic event. I was in fact, a bit disappointed.
The entire episode was devoid of the research process. It was almost as if the viewer would now take the research process entirely for granted! I was so disappointed for anyone who saw this event for the very first time! To them it must have appeared that searching records on Ancestry.com or at repositories was a breeze!
It also left the ending of the episode on a question mark, rather than listing possible solutions!
Famed film producer Spike Lee was lead on journey to Georgia where he discovered who his great-great-great grandparents, Mars and Matilda Griswold, were, and where they once walked.
During the journey Lee discovered that the couple had been born into slavery, a fate nearly every African-American will discover if their familial roots run past the American Civil War in this country. This sad truth was, in fact, handled with great dignity on this finale episode.
However, Lee wondered if Matilda Griswold was the daughter of James Griswold, her 'Master', at Griswoldville. Lee was lead to a descendant of Griswold's. But the question remained unanswered, with no plausible way of ever determining who Matilda's parents were. Matilda was listed as a Mulatto on the 1870 Census.
Lee also discovered that his gr-gr-gr-grandfather, Mars, was considered a skilled slave, and worked in the gin that Griswold owned. In February 1865, General WIlliam T. Sherman and his troops marched through Griswoldville, and burned all of Griswold's holdings to the ground; including his gin, which had been transformed to a Colt pistol factory supplying the Confederacy with small arms. Sherman took 5 of the skilled slaves with him. Lee was actually handed a pistol which was made in the foundry there, that undoubtedly, his gr-gr-gr grandfather Mars had a hand in producing. It was a touching moment as he realized the irony of his ancestor producing a firearm to fight against the very troops that were attempting to liberate him!
Lee walked on the grounds of what once was the property Mars and Matilda once owned. They were actually considered quite wealthy for the time, owning 80 acres of tilled land, 75 of wooded, and 50 of land that was eligible for development or as pasture. There he dug in the rich Georgia clay and gathered some of the clay earth to take to his children, and he vowed to tell them this is from whence they came.
Lee also vows that he will in fact produce a film on the hardships of the African-American during the time of his gr-gr-gr grandparents, Mars and Matilda. We look forward to that film being produced!