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Mark Whitaker On His Fasincating Family

Mark Whitaker New Book

First Posted: 10/19/11 06:04 PM ET Updated: 12/19/11 05:12 AM ET

CNN Worldwide Executive Vice President Mark Whitaker discussed his new memoir on CNN's "American Morning" last week. Following his father's death, Whitaker set out to write a book about his family's history and how it shaped his sense of identity.

Whitaker told CNN's Ali Velshi that he knew his parents had an interesting story as they were an interracial couple together during the 1950s. Whitaker described his parents relationship as "scandalous" because at the time, his father was the only African-American student at Swarthmore College and Whitaker's mother was his White teacher.

Whitaker's father came from a family of undertakers in Pittsburgh and his mother emigrated to the United States in 1940 with her five sisters to escape the Nazi occupation of Germany.

Velshi said of Whitaker's memoir that "the universal part of the book becomes the struggle for identity." Velshi was referring to Whitaker coming from a mixed-race background.

Whitaker said that "he grew up at a time when it was very unusual to be mixed race." He added, "there was a sense that somehow [I] had to choose."

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Filed by Rebecca Shapiro  |