Black descendant of 4th US president James Madison publishes book about his black family


Dr Bettye Kearse, retired pediatrician and black descendant of the president James madison, is the author of the award-winning book The Other Madisons: The Lost Story of a President’s Black Family (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Recounting the struggles, perseverance, and contributions of eight generations of Kearse’s family, this memoir illustrates that enslaved Africans possessed the inner strength, hope, and talents that enabled them to survive slavery while at the same time powerfully contributing to America. They passed on these same qualities to their descendants. This book will inspire these descendants not only to use their inner strength to fight for their full rights as full Americans, but to fulfill their hopes and, like their slave ancestors, to make contributions to our nation.

In 2020, The other Madisons won the International Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society’s Book Award for Non-Fiction / Autobiography and an Outstanding Book Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

In his star-studded review, the esteemed Kirkus Reviews rented The other Madisons as “A Roots for a new generation, rich in storytelling and steeped in history” and one of the best books of the year. Kearse’s book has also been listed as one of Smithsonian magazine“Best history books of 2020”, Hello america‘s “7 books to read for Presidents’ Day”, and Parade“Best Memoirs to Read This Year”.

The 2021 documentary film based on The other Madisons can be seen in webinars and film festivals across the country. Here is a brief excerpt:

Previous lectures by Dr. Kearse have included the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section of the American Bar Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, Harvard University Medical School, the University of Virginia, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Montpelier of James Madison.

His areas of expertise include the black descendants of President James Madison, the importance of oral history, slavery on Wall Street, and how the original Constitution laid the groundwork for the marginalization of black Americans and the unjust law enforcement against them, including the murder of George Floyd.

Dr. Kearse has appeared on “Teen Kids News” television and on several podcast and radio shows, including NPR shows. Video and audio recordings are available.

For more information visit

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Kevin E. Boling

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