Paula Roberts Henderson

Dates Alive: 1946-

Family: Hemings-Madison

Three daughters of Consuelo and Elmer Wayles Roberts were interviewed together in Los Angeles: Paula Henderson, Robin Roberts-Martin, and Ellen Hodnett, a teacher and school principal. They recalled their father, a graduate of U.C.L.A., a mortician, and a probation officer. In 1976 he told Time magazine he thought Thomas Jefferson would be “unhappy about man’s inability to learn anything about living with his fellow man, despite all the advances in technology.” 

The Roberts sisters had vivid memories of their grandfather William Giles Roberts, who ran the family mortuary before moving to his farm northeast of Los Angeles. They are proud of the Robertses as one of the earliest and most influential black families in Los Angeles. As for their Jefferson ancestry, the genetic tests of 1998 were “just a scientific confirmation of what we already knew.” As Paula Henderson said, “It was really important in the Roberts family that each person do something important.  It didn’t matter who your relatives were if you didn’t do something yourself.”


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Interview Information

4 Dec. 1998, Los Angeles, CA
Interviewees: Paula Henderson, Ellen Hodnett, Robin Roberts-Martin