Commercial DNA tests showed that Hiram and Bruce were related. But their link proved to be much deeper — and darker — than either could have imagined.
As a black teenager in Compton, California, in the 1970s, Hiram Johnson began to wonder about his father’s fine curly hair, and the light-brown skin that strangers sometimes thought was white.
Hiram knew only a few things about his father’s childhood. Fred Johnson was raised in Jackson, Mississippi, by his mother, Bernice. Fred said that Bernice was a “beautiful black woman,” but he never said a word about his father. All Hiram knew was that his grandfather probably wasn’t black.