Source: Faces of America: "Journey from Jamaica"
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Journey From Jamaica Transcript (Document)
Henry Louis Gates Jr.: What was the family story of how he came from Jamaica?
Elizabeth Alexander: The story he told us then was that he stowed away on a banana boat. And you know my brother and I said ooh, stowed away on a boat, I pictured the whole thing.
Narration: I didn’t know whether a stowaway would show up in the records at Ellis Island… but if Clifford was there, Catherine Daly would be able to find him.
Gates: Catherine, I’m looking for Elizabeth Alexander’s grandfather who would have migrated from Jamaica in the teens.
Catherine Daly: Okay. We found a Clifford Alexander who came in September 7, 1918.
Gates: Must be the guy.
Daly: You bring up a listing…
Gates: Alexander, Clifford, 21 years-old…
Daly: Read and wrote English. He was of West Indian heritage.
Gates: Kingston, Jamaica.
Daly: Leaving behind his brother. It’s showing that they’re coming first class, first cabin passengers.
Gates: Wow… So boats were integrated.
Daly: Yes. And the boats, they would be cleared at the pier if they were first class or second cabin… And he paid for his fare himself… And then there’s a ship that they traveled on.
Gates: The Turrialba. Daly: Turrialba, leaving the port of Kingston, built by United Fruit Company. I’m sure that’s what it is, don’t you think?
Gates: Yeah. That is amazing.
Daly: She’ll love this.
Gates: Yeah, I’m loving it. And I’m not even related to them.
He had enough money to buy a ticket rather than stowaway and preferred that story, isn’t that curious?
Alexander: No, it’s amazing. It’s really amazing… Of course also it makes you wish for what you can’t have. Which is just that I could talk to him. You know and ask him questions.
Gates: Now how’d you get on that boat? How long were you on that boat? What was it like?
Alexander: Yeah, everything, everything, everything.
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