Black Activist Goes Nuts After Realizing She’s Related To Mayflower Passenger 

( Angela Davis, a radical black feminist, was taken aback when she discovered she was a direct descendant of the Mayflower’s pilgrims. 

On Tuesday, the PBS program “Finding Your Origins” featured the guest, a self-proclaimed Marxist feminist and former black power militant from the 1970s. The interviewer, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., told her audience she is related to Mayflower participant William Brewster. 

Gates Tweeted a snippet of the interview where he shows Davis a roll call of the Mayflower’s passengers. 

Davis can’t contain her shock. She laughs and shakes her head, saying, “I can’t believe this.” She continues to giggle in denial, saying that there is no way her ancestors traveled to America on the Mayflower. 

Gates reiterates that her forefathers came to America on the famous voyage. According to family lore, she is related to one of the Mayflower’s first passengers. 

“No. It’s a flat-out “no,” she replies with more laughter.  

Eventually, she can compose herself. “Oof, that’s a little too much to cope with right now,” she says. 

Everyone who rode on the Mayflower is listed there, Gates reminds. 

The episode implies that Davis’s paternal grandparents, Mollie Spencer, and Edward Davis, formally adopted Frank Davis. As Spencer and Davis had a bitter divorce before his birth, Edward Davis could not have been Spencer’s father. Frank Davis was really the offspring of a white woman called Mollie Spencer and a guy named Murphy Jones. Via Jones, Davis’s ancestry was traced back to Mayflower Compact signer and Plymouth Colony leader William Brewster. 

In addition, Davis’s maternal grandfather, John Austin Darden, was a white Alabama lawyer and state lawmaker. Stephen Darden, a drummer from Virginia who participated in the Revolutionary War, is her ancestor via the Darden surname. The next stop for Darden was Georgia, where he bought a property and acquired at least six enslaved people. 

“I always thought my ancestors were the slaves,” Davis remarked. “I have so many conflicting feelings right now it’s hard to keep them all straight in my head and heart.” 

Davis has spent the better part of the past fifty years engaged in extreme racial activism. When she enrolled at Brandeis University, she started receiving Marxist education. 

She gave speeches in communist Cuba, the Soviet Union, and East Germany while a member of the Communist Party USA and the Black Panther Party. In 1980 and 1984, she sought the vice presidency as a Communist Party candidate.