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Rediscovering Family Heritage: Pamela Westbrooks-Hodge (ep. 682)

Pamela Westbrooks-Hodge

John O’Leary welcomes Pamela Westbrooks-Hodge on the Live Inspired Podcast to share how she’s advocating to ensure the story her ancestor, Celia, is not forgotten.

Pamela Westbrooks-Hodge has led some of the world’s most iconic brands. And yet, it’s what she uncovered about her family’s past that’s most incredible.

After discovering that her great-great-great-grandmother had been enslaved in Missouri, wrongfully convicted of a crime, and denied the justice she so deserved, Pamela eagerly sought to learn more about her family’s heritage.

My friends, today’s episode goes beyond Pamela’s journey as we celebrate unity, collaboration and how we can’t change the past, but we can certainly learn from it.

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  • After the Fair Housing Act removed the housing segregation barriers, Pamela’s family moved from the inner city to the inner ring of the St. Louis suburbs.
  • For 15 years, Pamela had a portrait of Celia hanging in her foyer without knowing she was her great-great-great grandmother.
  • Born in 1850s, Celia is sold to Robert Newsome where she endured five years of child slavery and sexual exploitation.
  • Maintaining her claim that she acted alone, Celia was found guilty of the murder of Robert Newsome and was executed on the courthouse steps in Fulton, Missouri on December 21st, 1855.
  • “Celia’s life proved that in our justice system at the time, you could be a criminal, and at the same time not be seen as a victim. She was human enough to be tried for murder, but she wasn’t human enough to be protected by the law.”
  • “If you want to heal what ails us as a nation, if you want to heal these racial fractures, work together to seek justice for someone that justice has been delayed.”
  • Man’s inhumanity to man: The common thread to Celia’s story, the marginalized groups of the German and Irish immigrants, indigenous populations removed from their land and sex trafficking victims is man’s inhumanity to man.

Did you enjoy today’s episode?

You’ll love my conversation Brian Buffini.  Going back five generations, Brian was taught the importance of recognizing where you’ve come from in order to make sure you live life in such a manner that you can celebrate by putting your name on it. You’ll learn how he’s built a real estate empire and how his vision can make a profound impact on your life. Listen to Brian Buffini on Live Inspired Podcast ep. 1.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.



  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?

    Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips and the Bible.

  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. I wore my heart on my sleeve.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. The portrait of Celia.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. Abraham Lincoln.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. Give yourself grace. Don't try to be perfect; try to be good.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Make good decisions. Every decision you make will impact the rest of your life.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. She wasn't perfect but she tried to do good.