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Leading by Example

I thought this article was awesome (see “No Place Like Home,” Nov. 15). Dr. Motley embodies the spirit of Ubuntu that is sadly missing among many leaders today. As an alumni and employee at Gallaudet University, we recently had an unpleasant experience with a presidential search that has resulted in the university now facing an uphill struggle on various levels. If only we had leaders like Dr. Motley at Gallaudet, we would have endured the after-effects of our crisis with a stronger resolve to create an institution deaf and hard of hearing people all over the world would look up to with pride. I still hope we get there and hopefully a deaf Dr. Motley would be cloned and sent to us. Congratulations Doc. The University of Massachusetts is blessed to have a gentleman leader like you.

Lindsay Moeletsi Dunn 

‘Definitive’ Limitations
“Harvard’s Gates Start Genetic-ancestry Company,”, Nov. 16, 2007

There are numerous scientific problems associated with any claim of ancestry using genetic markers. First, is the fact that as you move each generation back, your ancestors double. With a generation time of 36 years, you have about 32 ancestors since the end of the importation of slaves to America. The testing, at best, would only reveal a few of the traces that came from these ancestors. In addition, only some markers can be “definitive” due to the fact that they occur in low frequency and are localized in their distribution. Many of these markers are more cosmopolitan and therefore cannot provide any real ancestry definition. Finally, since the allele frequencies in human populations evolve, there is no way to know what the frequencies were in African populations less than five generations ago (when many of the Africans who gave rise to African-Americans left Africa).

If African populations had remained large, hadn’t migrated, or were not impacted by war, you might be able to extrapolate the frequencies to the past. Yet, we know this is not the case (I made this point at the New Genetics and the African Slave Trade gathering at Harvard last fall.) So, at best, any attempts to correlate today’s genetic markers in Africa with the ancestry of African-Americans is speculation.

– Dr. Joseph Graves Jr., Dean of University Studies & Professor of Biological Sciences, North Carolina A&T State University

‘Take Back Our Legacy’
“Black Greeks: A Legacy in Peril?”, Nov. 13, 2007

I agree with this article. We have to teach our young people about the history of the organization by example. We must also teach and mentor them going forward, when they become members of the organization, to continue the philosophies of the founders of “The Divine Nine.” Those of us who are the elders must come out of retirement and take back our legacy, which is great and proud, and cast out those who do (not) want to see us flourish.

– Margaret Peters

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