Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Returns January 5, 2016

Finding Your Roots

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited that Finding Your Roots is back again despite the Ben Affleck controversy. Oh yes! You see, when the decision was made to “scrub” any mention of Affleck’s slave-owning ancestors from his feature story last year, the truth still came out. Then producers found themselves in a very AWKWARD place of having to defend the integrity of the show to the public (you can read more about the controversy here). So, hopefully everyone involved has learned a valuable lesson here. And to Ben Affleck, slavery happened. Deal with it because you’re not the “only” white person in America to have slave-owning ancestors in your family tree! Well enough said about the past, check out season three details below!

The Stories We Tell
Season Three — Preview
Premiere date: January 5, 2016 @ 8/7 CST (check your local listing)

Since the première of his groundbreaking series, African American Lives, in 2006 through the first two seasons of Finding Your Roots, noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has unearthed the family histories of influential people helping shape our national identity. Professor Gates uses a team of genealogists to reconstruct the paper trail left by our ancestors and the world’s leading geneticists to decode our DNA and help us travel thousands of years into the past to discover the origins of our earliest forebears.

In season three of Finding Your Roots, Henry, Louis Gates, Jr. traces the ancestral trails of 28 new guests including Maya Rudolph, Richard Branson, Soledad O’Brien, Bill Hader, Julianne Moore, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Senator John McCain, Norman Lear, Shonda Rhimes, and more.

Temple University Photo

Share Your Story

Every family has a unique genealogical journey just waiting to be unlocked. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. asks you to share your own online at this link – http://www.pbs.org/weta/finding-your-roots/share-story/

Press Release: Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Returns September 23, 2014

PUBLICITY CONTACT:
Donna Williams, WNET, 212.560.8030
Charlie Guadano, Sunshine Sachs, 212.691.2800
Whitney Kuhn, Sunshine Sachs, 212.691.2800

Acclaimed PBS Series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Returns Tuesday, September 23 at 8pm ET for its Second Season

This season’s 10-part series explores the heritages and ancestries of 29 of today’s leading entertainers, athletes, chefs, and media personalities, including: Ben Affleck, Jessica Alba, Khandi Alexander, Tom Colicchio, Tina Fey, Sally Field, Derek Jeter, Stephen King, Nas, Anna Deavere Smith, Sting, and Courtney B. Vance

The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from was at the core of the first season of the PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  In the second, 10-part season, Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, continues his journey into the past to illuminate the familial histories of 29 of today’s most recognizable names in sports, music, film, television, theatre, and literature.  Filmed on location around the world, season two of Finding Your Roots, premieres nationally Tuesdays, September 23rd – November 25th at 8 p.m. ET on PBS(check local listings).

The premiere of the second season of Finding Your Roots comes on the heels of Professor Gates’ Peabody Award-winning PBS series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, which debuted in the fall of 2013 to critical acclaim.  In each hour-long episode of the second season of Finding Your Roots, Gates continues his quest to, as he says, “get into the DNA of American culture.”  By weaving a group of celebrity stories together, each episode takes viewers on a journey through layers of ancestral history, uncovering familial secrets and sharing life-altering discoveries that ultimately reveal an intimate bond that links each individual’s story together.

“We hope that viewers will find Finding Your Roots to be a moving, uplifting, entertaining and enlightening experience,” says Gates. “Genealogy is more popular than ever, but it’s far more than a solitary pastime. It’s a fascinating endeavor that alters both the way we think about historical events (because of our ancestors’ roles in those events) and the way we think of ourselves.”

You can read the rest of the official press release online here! 

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Press Materials: pbs.org/pressroom or thirteen.org/pressroom
Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FindingYourRootsPBS

Press Release: The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross Premiers October 22 at 8 pm on PBS

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross | Life of Priscilla

Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. investigates the life of a slave known only as Priscilla. She was purchased as just a young girl at a slave auction in South Carolina by a rice planter, Elias Ball. She arrived on Ball’s South Carolina rice plantation in 1756, alone, without family. A third of South Carolina’s slaves died within a year of their arrival. Nearly two-thirds of all children were dead before they turned 16. Priscilla beat the odds.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Presents The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross Premiering October 22 at 8 pm on PBS

New six-part, six-hour series takes viewers on an unprecedented journey through African-American history—from slavery to freedom, and from the plantation to the White House

This fall, noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. recounts the full trajectory of African-American history in his groundbreaking new six-part series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross premiering Tuesdays, October 22, 29 – November 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2013, 8-9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). Written and presented by Professor Gates, the six-hour series explores the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed — forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds. Commencing with the origins of slavery in Africa, the series moves through five centuries of remarkable historic events right up to the present — when America is led by a black president, yet remains a nation deeply divided by race.

Professor Gates travels throughout the United States, taking viewers on an engaging journey through history. He visits key historical sites, partakes in lively debates with some of America’s top historians and interviews living eyewitnesses — including school integration pioneers Ruby Bridges and Charlayne Hunter-Gault, former Black Panther Kathleen Neal Cleaver, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and many more.

“The story of the African-American people is the story of the settlement and growth of America itself, a universal tale that all people should experience,” says Gates, Alphonse Fletcher University professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. “Since my senior year in high school, when I watched Bill Cosby narrate a documentary about black history, I’ve longed to share those stories in great detail to the broadest audience possible, young and old, black and white, scholars and the general public. I believe that my colleagues and I have achieved this goal through The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.”

The series will take viewers across five hundred years and two continents to shed new light on the experience of being an African American. By highlighting the tragedies, triumphs and contradictions of the black experience, the series will reveal to viewers that the African-American community, which abolitionist Martin R. Delany famously described as “a nation within a nation,” has never been a uniform entity, and that its members have been actively debating their differences from their first days in this country.

Throughout the course of the series, viewers will see that the road to freedom for black people in America was not linear, but more like the course of a river, full of loops and eddies, slowing, and occasionally reversing the current of progress.

Below are brief overviews of each episode in this six-part series.

Episode One: The Black Atlantic (1500 – 1800)

Tuesday, October 22, 8-9 p.m.

The Black Atlantic explores the truly global experiences that created the African-American people. Beginning a full century before the first documented “20-and-odd” slaves who arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, the episode portrays the earliest Africans, both slave and free, who arrived on these shores. But the transatlantic slave trade would soon become a vast empire connecting three continents. Through stories of individuals caught in its web, like a 10-year-old girl named Priscilla who was transported from Sierra Leone to South Carolina in the mid-18th century, we trace the emergence of plantation slavery in the American South. The late 18th century saw a global explosion of freedom movements, and The Black Atlantic examines what that Era of Revolutions — American, French and Haitian — would mean for African Americans and for slavery in America.

Episode Two:The Age of Slavery(1800 – 1860)

Tuesday, October 29, 8-9 p.m.

 The Age of Slavery illustrates how black lives changed dramatically in the aftermath of the American Revolution. For free black people in places like Philadelphia, these years were a time of tremendous opportunity. But for most African Americans, this era represented a new nadir. King Cotton fueled the rapid expansion of slavery into new territories, and a Second Middle Passage forcibly relocated African Americans from the Upper South into the Deep South. Yet as slavery intensified, so did resistance. From individual acts to mass rebellions, African Americans demonstrated their determination to undermine and ultimately eradicate slavery in every state in the nation. Courageous individuals, such as Harriet Tubman, Richard Allen and Frederick Douglass, played a crucial role in forcing the issue of slavery to the forefront of national politics, helping to create the momentum that would eventually bring the country to war.

Episode Three: Into the Fire (1861 – 1896)

Tuesday, November 5, 8-9 p.m.

Into the Fire examines the most tumultuous and consequential period in African-American history: the Civil War and the end of slavery, and Reconstruction’s thrilling but tragically brief “moment in the sun.” From the beginning, African Americans were agents of their own liberation — forcing the Union to confront the issue of slavery by fleeing the plantations, and taking up arms to serve with honor in the United States Colored Troops. After Emancipation, African Americans sought to realize the promise of freedom — rebuilding families shattered by slavery; demanding economic, political and civil rights; even winning elected office. Just a few years later, however, an intransigent South mounted a swift and vicious campaign of terror to restore white supremacy and roll back African-American rights. Yet the achievements of Reconstruction would remain very much alive in the collective memory of the African-American community.

Episode Four: Making a Way Out of No Way (1897 – 1940)

Tuesday, November 12, 8-9 p.m.

Making a Way Out of No Way portrays the Jim Crow era, when African Americans struggled to build their own worlds within the harsh, narrow confines of segregation. At the turn of the 20th century, a steady stream of African Americans left the South, fleeing the threat of racial violence, and searching for better opportunities in the North and the West. Leaders like Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey organized, offering vastly different strategies to further black empowerment and equality. Yet successful black institutions and individuals were always at risk. At the same time, the ascendance of black arts and culture showed that a community with a strong identity and sense of pride was taking hold in spite of Jim Crow. “The Harlem Renaissance” would not only redefine how America saw African Americans, but how African Americans saw themselves.

Episode Five: Rise! (1940 – 1968)

Tuesday, November 19, 8-9 p.m.

Rise! examines the long road to civil rights, when the deep contradictions in American society finally became unsustainable. Beginning in World War II, African Americans who helped fight fascism abroad came home to face the same old racial violence. But this time, mass media — from print to radio and TV — broadcast that injustice to the world, planting seeds of resistance. And the success of black entrepreneurs and entertainers fueled African-American hopes and dreams. In December 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, heralding the dawn of a new movement of quiet resistance, with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as its public face. Before long, masses of African Americans practiced this nonviolent approach at great personal risk to integrate public schools, lunch counters and more. As the civil rights movement scored one historic victory after another, non-violence was still all too often met with violence — until finally, enough was enough. By 1968, Dr. King, the apostle of non-violence, would be assassinated, unleashing a new call for “Black Power” across the country.

Episode Six: It’s Nation Time (1968 – 2013)

Tuesday, November 26, 8-9 p.m.

After 1968, African Americans set out to build a bright new future on the foundation of the civil rights movement’s victories, but a growing class disparity threatened to split the black community in two. As hundreds of African Americans won political office across the country and the black middle class made unprecedented progress, larger economic and political forces isolated the black urban poor in the inner cities, vulnerable to new social ills and an epidemic of incarceration. Yet African Americans of all backgrounds came together to support Illinois’ Senator Barack Obama in his historic campaign for the presidency of the United States. When he won in 2008, many hoped that America had finally transcended race and racism. By the time of his second victory, it was clear that many issues, including true racial equality, remain to be resolved. Now we ask: How will African Americans help redefine the United States in the years to come?

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is the centerpiece of a multiplatform project including educational outreach events, a robust website, social media, and a companion book.  Accompanying the broadcast is an ambitious national outreach initiative to extend the impact, utilization, and “life after broadcast” of the serieswhich will include development of digital educational resources, an educational poster and an educator’s premium. The initiative will also include partnerships with PBS stations across the country, which will produce local broadcasts and host live professional development workshops.

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross website (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/) will include video from the series, including all six full episodes for a limited run, as well as scenes not included in the films. In addition to video, the website will elaborate on and explore the rich history covered in the series with text, timelines, images and other multimedia; include a collection of graphics featuring quotations from well-known African-Americans for individuals to share on a number of social media platforms; feature a blog by Gates that highlights 100 interesting and unexpected facts from African-American history; and invite viewers to submit and browse stories about and reactions to significant moments in history. The website will offer visitors the chance to personalize their experience and share series content on social platforms.

The anchor of the series’ presence on social media platforms will be Gates himself — sharing content and behind-the-scenes photos from his own accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Fans on social media will be offered early access to particular content and opportunities to connect with Gates and scholars from the program via live online social viewing events.

A companion book of the same name, written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Donald Yacovone, which further explores the events portrayed in the series, will be published by SmileyBooks on October 1.

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, the 13th and latest documentary from Gates, is a joint production of Kunhardt McGee Productions, THIRTEEN Productions LLC, and Inkwell Films in association with Ark Media. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Peter Kunhardt, Dyllan McGee and Julie Anderson are executive producers. Stephen Segaller is executive in charge for WNET.  Rachel Dretzin is senior producer. Leslie Asako Gladsjo is senior story producer.

Gates is the first filmmaker to employ genealogy and genetic science to provide an understanding of African-American history. He began the current trend of ancestry-related TV in America with the broadcast of African American Lives in 2006. His previous PBS series, produced in association with WNET, include Finding Your Roots (2012), Black in Latin America (2011), Faces of America(2010)Looking for Lincoln (2009), African American Lives 2  (2008), Oprah’s Roots: An African American Lives Special (2007), and African American Lives (2006).

Major corporate support for The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is provided by Bank of America.  Additional corporate funding is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and McDonald’s.  Leadership support is generously provided by the Abby and Howard Milstein Foundation, in partnership with HooverMilstein and Emigrant Bank.  Major funding is also provided by the Ford Foundation, Dr. Georgette Bennett and Dr. Leonard Polonsky in Memory of Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, Richard Gilder, the Hutchins Family Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Support is also provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS

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Read full Press Release online at Thirteen WNET New York Public Media

Press Release: Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

PUBLICITY CONTACT:
Donna Williams, 212-560-8030
John Michael Kennedy, 212-576-2700

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a new 10-part PBS series that explores race, culture and identity through genealogy and genetics, premieres Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 8 pm

Finding Your Roots

Check your local TV listing for times

 

Finding Your Rootsbuilds on the success of African American Lives 1 and 2 and Faces of America, journeying deep into the ancestry of remarkable individuals

Harry Connick, Jr., Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, John Legend, Branford Marsalis, Condoleezza Rice, Michelle Rodriguez, Barbara Walters, and many other well-known names learn long-lost secrets from their family histories.

The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 8 pm ET on PBS(check local listings). (Note: program one and two are scheduled on Sunday, March 25 from 8-9 pm and 9-10 pm respectively.)

Continuing on the quest begun in his previous projects, African American Lives (2006), African American Lives 2(2008) and Faces of America (2010), Gates finds new ways to, as he says, “get into the DNA of American culture.” In each hour-long episode, he takes viewers along for the journey with one celebrity group bound together by an intimate, sometimes hidden link, treks through layers of ancestral history, uncovers secrets and surprises of their family trees and shares life-altering discoveries.

Finding Your Roots will be a moving, uplifting, entertaining and enlightening experience for viewers,” says Gates. “Genealogy is more popular than ever, but it’s far more than a solitary pastime. It’s a fascinating endeavor that can drastically alter both history and the way we think of ourselves.”

Guest groupings include: award-winning husband-and-wife actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, who both descend from prominent American families that have been in this country since inception; New Orleans jazz masters and close friends Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis, whose European immigrant ancestors made very different choices in the slave-era South; spiritual leaders Angela Buchdahl, Yasir Qadhi and Rick Warren, whose ancestors’ paths to America were shaped by religious convictions; and education superstar Geoffrey Canada and media legend Barbara Walters, who both rediscover family histories long obscured by forgotten name changes.

In other episodes, public servants Condoleezza Rice and Congressman John Lewis, featured in different hours, trace their contemporary-day strength to enslaved ancestors, actor Robert Downey, Jr. marvels at the vastness of his family tree dating back to the 13th century, and Michelle Rodriguez discovers family secrets and heroes that her parents left behind when they came to the United States as immigrants. Gates travels with his guests throughout the series, sharing the details of ancestral stories and helping process what they’ve learned. He accompanies musicianJohn Legend to a rock concert, goes backstage on Broadway with Samuel L. Jackson, joins Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker as he reveals the root-seeking results to his parents, and trails CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Geoffrey Canada to memorable family reunions.

Working closely with leading U.S. genealogists (including staff of the New England Genealogical Historical Society and Johni Cerny, co-author of the acclaimed The Source: Guidebook for American Genealogy) and ancestry experts from around the world, Gates and his production team comb through family stories to discover unknown histories and relatives the guests never knew existed. When paper trails end for each story, the team turns to top geneticists and DNA diagnosticians (such as the genetic testing service 23 & Me) to analyze each participant’s genetic code, tracing their bloodlines and occasionally debunking their long-held notions and beliefs.

Reaching beyond celebrity stories, Gates also seeks out everyday individuals (on-air and online) who are wrestling with questions of identity. He visits with employees at his favorite barber shop, and engages Harlem students who are curious about their genetics.

A far-reaching educational and community outreach initiative will accompany the broadcast, including: locally produced short excerpts to be shown on partner stations in conjunction with Finding Your Roots; a set of standards-based lesson plans for upper elementary and middle school classrooms that use segments from the series; live webinars; and a multimedia guide for educators to encourage use of the series and its additional resources with students. A Finding Your Roots companion website (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots), will present video from the series, profiles of featured guests and an ongoing blog from executive producer, writer and presenter Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In addition to his blog, the website will include material from the production team and the scientists who conducted research for the series. With a heavy focus on online engagement, the website will allow fans to submit stories about their own family histories, and browse those others have uploaded. The website also will offer a comprehensive list of resources that viewers can use to learn more about their own genealogy.

Finding Your Roots Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FindingYourRootsPBS) will foster conversation among users fascinated by genealogy, as well as showcase user-submitted photos, videos and stories related to their genetic lineages and family histories.

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a production of Kunhardt McGee Productions, Inkwell Films and WNET in association with Ark Media. WNET is the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations and operator of NJTV. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local documentaries and other programs for the New York community.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stephen Segaller, Peter Kunhardt, and Dyllan McGee are executive producers of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Rachel Dretzin is senior producer. Leslie Asako Gladsjo is senior story editor.

Corporate funding is provided by The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s and American Express. Additional funding is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Ford Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Support is also provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS.

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About WNET
New York’s WNET is America’s flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN andWLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as NatureGreat PerformancesAmerican MastersNeed to KnowCharlie RoseTavis Smiley and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the MathNoah Comprende and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.

About Kunhardt McGee Productions
For 24 years Kunhardt McGee Productions led by Peter Kunhardt and Dyllan McGee has been making documentary films about the people and ideas that have shaped our history. Most recently, the company co-produced Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2010), Looking for Lincoln (2009), Oprah’s Roots (2007) and African American Lives 1 and 2 (2006 & 2008) for PBS. For HBO, Kunhardt McGee Productions produced Gloria: In Her Own Words(2011) and Emmy award-winning Teddy: In His Own Words (2010). Other notable works include This Emotional Life, Looking for Lincoln, In Memoriam, PT Barnum, The American President, Bobby Kennedy: In His Own Words, andJFK: In His Own Words. More information can be found at: www.kunhardtmcgee.com

About Inkwell Films
Inkwell Films was founded by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to produce sophisticated documentary films about the African and African-American experience for a broad audience. Currently in production, Finding Your Roots, a 10-hour series for PBS. Most recently Inkwell Films has co-produced Black in Latin America (2011), Faces of America (2010),Looking for Lincoln (2009), African American Lives 2 (2008), Oprah’s Roots (2007), and African American Lives(2006), Inkwell Films is currently developing Many Rivers to Cross: The History of the African American People, a six-part series for PBS.

About Ark Media
Ark Media is a documentary film company founded in 1997 by the producing team of Barak Goodman and Rachel Dretzin. Ark’s mission is to produce documentary films characterized by rigorous reporting, careful craft, and imaginative filmmaking. Ark partnered with Kunhardt-McGee Productions on the Henry Louis Gates Jr. series, Faces of America, (2010) and also with Kunhardt-McGee, produced Looking for Lincoln (2009) and the upcoming Makersproject for PBS. For the last decade and a half, Ark has produced films primarily for the PBS series Frontline andAmerican Experience, winning nearly every major broadcast award: the Emmy, DuPont-Columbia, Robert F. Kennedy, Writers Guild and Peabody Awards, as well as earning an Academy Award nomination and official selection to the Sundance Film Festival. Ark has also produced documentaries for the New York Times, American Movie Classics, ABC, and the History Channel. For more information, visit www.ark-media.net.

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