The other side of our tribe's racial split settled to the south.
In Wayne County, on North Carolina's broad coastal plain, Wiley Mozingo was waiting in his small brick ranch home in Rollingwood Estates, a black subdivision with a white twin, Foxfire Estates, next door.
He was 59, a stoutish, soft-spoken man with plaintive eyes. He worked as a prison guard for 18 years before retiring because of a painful inflammatory disease called sarcoidosis. Wiley played with his 2-year-old grandson in the den and talked.
In simple terms, Wiley's family was black. But their experience was vastly more complicated.
Wiley grew up in a wood-frame house his father, Fred Mozingo, had built on the north edge of Goldsboro. Fred was a boilermaker at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, and he raised chickens, hogs and cows. He was mixed-race and could pass as white. He sat at lunch counters and went to white-only restaurants. Wiley's mother, Naomi, was darker. Wiley remembers going with her to the Woolworth's lunch counter as a little boy and how they were told to eat on the sidewalk.
Lighter skin afforded such status that Wiley's paternal grandfather all but banished Fred for marrying a darker woman.
When Wiley was 10, his father died of a heart condition. Naomi and her seven children moved into sharecropper shacks and worked the tobacco fields with other black families. They moved whenever farmers demanded the children pick tobacco instead of going to school.
Wiley continued his story as we got into his Buick and drove around Wayne County.
He said he worked in the fields summers, weekends and after school, picking tobacco leaves. His hands turned so dark with tobacco gum that he dared not touch his eyes for the sting. At night the family scrubbed down with the lye soap his grandmother made. The shacks had no plumbing, and heat came from the single wood stove. "You'd be burning up front, freezing in back," Wiley said.
The family became firmly entrenched on the black side of North Carolina society.
Yet they didn't all look black. Wiley and his mother were the darkest, while his youngest brother Ricky looked white. The rest fell somewhere in between.
The spring before ninth grade in 1965, Wiley and three friends signed up to play football at a white high school that had agreed to enroll blacks. "I showed up and my friends didn't," he said. "It was the most stress I've ever been in in my life."
Students threw trash at him on the school bus or didn't let him sit down. He started riding his bike. On Mount Olive Highway, drivers ran him into the ditch. He remembers one particular tormentor, a white boy named Larry Mozingo, announcing: "This is one of my slaves." (What, if anything, Larry remembers is a mystery; he didn't return my calls.)
Wiley didn't answer the abuse. He became a star linebacker and vowed to endure the humiliations.
The harassment never ended. The family kept finding their tin mailboxes blown to shards. When Wiley had the ball on the football field, he heard opposing fans yell, "Kill the nigger!"
I told him then about the origins of our name. He didn't seem to care.
I thought the news might give him a shred of vindication, a connection to a deeper past. I don't know why. I'd met his sister Shirlyn in Los Angeles, who told me she thought the name came from Milan. When I countered that it probably came from Africa, she winced.
"I like Milan," she said.