Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. pieces together family histories and explores the Great Migration of African Americans as well as the experiences of those who endured Jim Crow segregation.
From the early 20th century to the end of the Civil War, a look at how African Americans defined their freedom after slavery. Courthouse records are key when tracing lineage through Reconstruction.
Genealogical research is more difficult moving back from the Civil War to the Colonial era. Genealogists explain the hurdles: African Americans have spent more generations enslaved than free.
Dr. Gates visits leading scientists using DNA analysis to trace ancestral roots. He and one participant travel to Africa to meet tribal elders whose DNA suggests are the participant's cousins.
Episode one focuses on stories of participants’ ancestors in the early 20th century, including the tragic account of Tom Joyner’s great-uncles, who were executed in 1915 for a crime that evidence suggests they did not commit, and Bliss Broyard’s stunning discovery about the identity of her father – renowned New York Times critic, Anatole Broyard – at the time of his death.
Episode Two traces the guests’ lineages back through the late 1800s to the Civil War, featuring such stories as Chris Rock’s great-great grandfather, a black Civil War veteran who was twice elected to the South Carolina State Legislature, and Don Cheadle’s great-great grandparents, who, as Chickasaw Freedmen, struggled to build lives for themselves in Oklahoma.
Henry Louis Gates
© 2006 Educational Broadcasting Corp; Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; Kunhardt Productions Inc.
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