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Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings Relationship Brought up at Jefferson Descendant's Annual Family Meeting at MonticelloAired May 7, 2000 - 9:25 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, descendants of Thomas Jefferson hold their annual family meeting at Monticello. Or is it Monti-SELL-o? We haven't settled the debate.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're taking a poll.
O'BRIEN: We think we're going to go with Monti-CHELL-o in this.
Once again, the questions are raised about who is and who is not a descendant.
PHILLIPS: Among those present are those who support the theory the nation's third president fathered children by slave Sally Hemings, and there are those who say he didn't.
Our story is from Luke Duci (ph) of CNN affiliate WVIR in Charlottesville, Virginia.
JULIA JEFFERSON WESTERINEN, HEMINGS DESCENDANT: A meeting together of the two sides of the family, and all of us together.
LUKE DUCI, WVIR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's something Julia Westerinen and her Hemings family cousins have been waiting for for more than a year, official recognition as descendants of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson.
WESTERINEN: We have the experts on our side, the people who have studied Jefferson all their working lives, plus an M.D. I think that's more than sufficient.
DUCI: However, the Monticello Association, who are direct descendants of Thomas Jefferson, say that's not sufficient, and are conducting a paternity study of their own.
JAMES TRUSCOTT, MONTICELLO ASSOCIATION: We want to get it right, and hopefully at least have everybody accept it. Some people won't agree with it. Hopefully everybody will accept it.
DUCI: Still others offer another explanation.
DOROTHY WESTERINEN, HEMINGS DESCENDANT: They don't want the Hemings in their graveyard, so that -- you know, and the Hemings are black.
DUCI: The Monticello Association says race has nothing to do with who is and who is not buried at Monticello, and instead point to a lack of DNA and other evidence, evidence they say that may be impossible to obtain.
TRUSCOTT: The -- if you read the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation report, they conclude that most likely, he fathered one, if not all, of her children, but they also say we will never know with absolute proof.
PHILLIPS: That was Luke Duci from our CNN affiliate, WVIR, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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