What’s in a name?

Ylonda Navade Rosenthal-Greene

One of my best friends in college used to call me the "multi-cultural experience" because my name was culturally of all over the place.

From an EARLY AGE as a person of color raised in a predominately white neighborhood the greatest fascination was with my maiden name of Rosenthal. "How did your family get that name?" I would be asked at the beginning of the school year.

I could never answer that question.  I had no idea that Rosenthal was a "Jewish" last name. To me, it was just my name.

As the years went by and I married my Irish husband (Greene with an "E" at the end) I could not bring myself to drop Rosenthal.  Each time I tried to research on Ancestry I could only go back a few generations.  This is common for many people of color.  Because of slavery many had only first names and families were routinely separated.

Finally a few years ago a yoga student (Ted) overheard another student ask me where Rosenthal came from. Ted said, "Ylonda I would love to research your family and find out for you".

So the long pain staking process of research, DNA matching began.  He slowly put together an amazing picture.

Here it is: My father's side (The Rosenthals) were "ACQUIRED" as property (slaves) on a plantation in Alexandria LA.  We were listed on the same list as furniture, cattle and acres!

The plantation was bought by a Jewish man named Jonah Rosenthal in 1860.  Soon after buying the property, Jonah gave us a large amount of acres of this property, AND gave us his last name.  In 1865 slavery was abolished. Although slavery was against the law, many had no where to go and no education. If they did leave the plantation and were lucky enough to get a job they could not get loans to buy property. So the Rosenthal were very lucky to own land free and clear. We still have and live on this land.

I know we were very lucky. I will carry this name with pride. I understand and appreciate the sacrifice Jonah made.  My children have begged me to hyphenate their name too.  I have promised if they feel the same way at 18 years old we would agree. This picture is the first two black Rosenthal on record.

William & Ettie Rosenthal