Denzel Washington Family History
Denzel Hayes Washington was born on December 28th, 1954 to Denzel and Lennis Washington in Mount Vernon, New York (while George Washington of course had his estate at Mount Vernon, Virginia). His father Denzel Sr, who came from Virginia, was a Pentecostal minister. He ran two churches and was rarely around. His wife Lennis owned a beauty parlor. They divorced when Denzel was fourteen.
Growing up in a predominantly African American suburb, young Denzel had witnessed many of his friends take up the path of drugs, crime and violence. He is certain that he too would have ended up like them had it not been for his mother, then a poor single parent, who sent him to Oakland Military Academy to learn some discipline. Determined to make something worthy of his life, he completed high school and studied journalism before embarking on a professional acting career.
He played several minor roles in films before Cry Freedom happened in 1987. His portrayal of anti-apartheid social activist Steve Biko established him as a talented character actor. More challenging roles followed and the actor went on to win an Oscar for best actor in 2001.
The First Washington
Not George in this case but John. Denzel Washington’s great great grandfather John Washington was born into slavery in Virginia in 1812 and therefore lived in slavery for over fifty years.
Because slaves were not listed as citizens but as property, John Washington does not appear in any records until 1870. The census record for that time show that he was married to a woman named Phoebe with whom he had six daughters. He also had $450 worth of real estate, indicating he was a successful farmer within five years of being freed. The 1900 census showed that John and Phoebe remained married into old age and had eighteen children.
One line from John and Phoebe led to William Washington, born into slavery in the 1840’s, and his wife Margaret also born into slavery. After emancipation, they settled in Curdsville, a small community in rural Buckingham county in Virginia not too far away from Charlottesville. The 1870 census listed them and their children as “mulatto,” meaning that they had a white ancestor.
Their son William and his wife Virginia had a farm in Curdsville in 1920 and were recorded there as having six children. Indeed the Washingtons remained in this small community from the time of emancipation until the time that one of William’s younger sons Denzel moved away in the 1930’s.
Denzel Washington’s Family Tree
- William Washington (b. 1850) m. Margaret Harris (b. 1859)
- – John Washington (b. 1867)
- – Charles Washington (b. 1870)
- – William Washington (b. 1875)
- William Washington m. Virginia Page (1878-1949)
- – Arnetia Washington (b. 1901)
- – Wiley Washington (1902-1937) m. Ticia Kincaide
- – Sarah Washington (b. 1906)
- – Warren Washington (b. 1908)
- – Denzel Washington (1909-1991)
- – Paige Washington (1913-1978)
- – Christabell Washington (1915-2004) m. Mr. Grice
- Denzel Hayes Washington m. Lennis (Lynne) Lowe (1924-1973), divorced in 1968
- – Lorice Washington (b. 1952)
- – Denzel Washington (b. 1954)
- – David Washington (b. 1956)
- Denzel Hayes Washington m. Pauletta Pearson (b. 1950) in 1983
- – John David Washington (b. 1984)
- – Katia Washington (b. 1986)
- – Malcolm and Olivia Washington (b. 1991)
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