Among the dignitaries, historians, and public officials who will gather this weekend at Fort Monroe National Monument, Va., to observe the 400-year anniversary of the “landing” of the first Africans in an English colony in North America will be Marion T. Lane, a former Philadelphia schoolteacher and administrator.
“I’m excited. I’m very excited,” Lane said this week as she talked about her plans for traveling to Virginia on Friday. “We now have DNA matches that prove I have Angolan ancestry.”
Lane, 70, of Bucks County, told The Inquirer this year that she believed she might have been descended from one of the “20 and odd Negroes" who were said to be on the first slave ship, the White Lion. Now, she said, a DNA match proves she has Angolan ancestry.
She will be making the trip with Constance R. Cole, the genealogist from State College, Pa., who has been working with her to prove her lineage to a woman named Margarita. Some genealogists, though, still aren’t sure the two women have proved that Lane descends from the ship.
Lane grew up in West Philadelphia at 51st and Race Streets, and considers herself “triracial,” a blending of African, European, and Native American ancestry. She is the author of several children’s books, including Patriots of African Descent in the Revolutionary War.
In Philadelphia, Michael Coard, the activist and lawyer who is a founding member of the Avenging the Ancestors Coalition, said the organization has recruited 400 children to take part in its observation here of “400 Years of Slavery, Legalized Racism and Resistance."
The Philadelphia observation will take place at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the President’s House Slavery Memorial at Sixth and Market Streets.