Morgan Zo Callahan | 06880

Since moving to Westport with newborn twins in 2003, John Suggs has been an active member of the community.

He was a member of the Representative Town Assembly and ran for the first judge as an independent in 2017.

Johannes Suggs

He has been involved with Assumption Church, Little League baseball and youth basketball. His family hosted A Better Chance scholars.

Professionally, Suggs worked in the areas of asset management analysis, public policy and community development.

Yet some of his most satisfying achievements have come in the field of forensic genetic genealogy. His Family Orchard business helps adult adoptees, birth parents, and siblings find each other.

One search took nine years to solve. It involved a biological mother of an abandoned three-month-old child – who was 91 years old at the time.

Twelve years ago, adult adoptee Morgan Zo asked Callahan Suggs to help him find his biological father.

Morgan Zo Callahan

Suggs spent seven years on the search. Along the way, he discovered that Callahan – who was raised white – was fathered by a black Haitian named Lionel Durand.

Durand was no longer alive. he died when Callahan was 17.

But he had lived a remarkable life. Lionel Durand was the son of Haiti’s last diplomatic consul in France before World War II, and a member of the French Resistance during the first two years of the German occupation.

He was captured twice and escaped from the Gestapo twice. He fled to the US, where he worked in the French bureau of Voice of America, broadcasting to occupied France.

Durand, a friend of Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau, went on to report from the world’s hotspots as Newsweek’s Paris bureau chief.

Lionel Durand, behind USSR Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev.

He died at the age of 43, after being injured by a tear gas bomb that exploded while he was covering the violence in the Casbah during the Algerian War of Independence.

Durand posthumously received the George Polk Award for “best reporting requiring exceptional courage and enterprise abroad” from his colleagues at the Overseas Press Club of America.

After discovering who Callahan’s father was, Suggs helped him meet members of his family.

Lionel Durand

Suggs subsequently assisted Callahn with his first book on the subject of his quest and its aftermath. It was called “Revelation and Healing: A Reunion of Father and Son.” Suggs also wrote the afterword.

When the book was published, Callahan insisted that all royalties go to a Jesuit charity in Haiti.

Readers were fascinated by Callahan’s story. Many urged him to write a second book – about his father.

The result – “Liberty Loving Lion: Unexpected Company of Lionel Durand” – was published last week by Simon & Schuster.

Royalties will also be donated to Faith in Action in Haiti.

The book tells Durand’s remarkable story, often in his own powerful voice.

“This book is Morgan’s tribute to his father: a man he never knew. A proud Haitian,” Suggs said.

“It is the story of Haiti, up to this moment.

“It is also the story of him and other black men and women who fought in the French Resistance, where they could not easily go ‘underground’ and hide because of the color of their skin. And the Nazis had a pathological hatred and fear of black people.”

It is also a story, Suggs adds, that “will help raise desperate funding for the people of Haiti.

“It’s a story about one man’s life that took us more than twelve years to discover and write. It is a story that needs to be told.”

The time has finally come.

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