Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Posted on February 20, 2010 at 8:00 am

Families should make a point to watch “Faces of America,” an engrossing new television series on PBS. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. sits down with celebrities like Stephen Colbert, Meryl Streep, Mario Batali, Eva Longoria, and others to use their family histories to illuminate the story of America. It is touching and inspiring to watch the participants learn for the first time the details of the courage and dedication of their forefathers, those who came to America filled with hope and those who were brought here as slaves. Professor Gates said,

We were able to trace the ancestry of Native American writer Louise Erdrich back to 438 A.D. We found that Queen Noor is descended from royalty, and that’s before she married King Hussein of Jordan. We found that the African American poet Elizabeth Alexander is related to the emperor Charlemagne!

We went even further and used DNA analysis to look for “deep cousins” — common ancestors among our guests — and we found genetic connections between eleven of our twelve guests. I found that despite all our apparent differences in terms of culture and history, we are all the same.

Visit the show’s blog and share your own family’s story.

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