Slave Trade: Introduction (02:10)
Henry Louis Gates Jr. introduces the guests on this episode of "Finding Your Roots." They include director Ava DuVernay, actor S. Epatha Merkerson, and musician Questlove.
Questlove comes from a family of musicians and grew up touring with his parents. He formed the band The Roots while in high school.
Ava DuVernay (02:54)
DuVernay is one of the few black, female directors in Hollywood. She credits her family for being her inspiration and greatest supporters of her work.
S. Epatha Merkerson (03:12)
Merkerson is a television and stage actor. She credits her success to her mother, who raised her and her siblings alone.
Questlove's Ancestors (05:31)
The guests do not know their family histories beyond their grandparents. Gates tracks Questlove's family back three generations in Mobile, Alabama and discovers ancestors in Africa. Questlove's great-great grandfather was a day laborer in the Jim Crow south.
Merkerson and the Hawkins (08:21)
Gates tracked Merkerson's family to 1823 in Maryland. Her DNA reveals an ancestor documented in an 1838 slave trade record from Georgetown University; records reveal the treatment of slaves.
DuVernay's Free Ancestors (04:48)
DuVernay's great-great-grandmother was listed as a free woman in New Orleans in the 1830s. Her fourth great grandparents were born free in Haiti; they were biracial and white. Her fifth great grandfather was a white slave owner.
DuVernay and New Orleans (04:18)
DuVernay's fourth great grandfather and his family fled Haiti during the slave revolt. They initially went to Cuba before moving to New Orleans. DuVernay is shocked that her history does not follow the normal slavery narrative.
Merkerson and the Jesuits (06:28)
Jesuits, who ran Georgetown University, used slave labor on their plantations in Maryland. Three generations of Merkerson's family were among their slaves. Georgetown has addressed its involvement in the slave trade.
Questlove and the Slave Trade (07:39)
Questlove's third great grandparents were smuggled into the country after the slave trade was outlawed. His ancestors were on the Clotilda, the last known slave ship, that kidnapped people from what is now Benin.
Ancestral Heritage (03:26)
DuVernay took a DNA test to determine if she had any African ancestors. Merkerson travels to Louisiana for a reunion of descendants of those sold by the Jesuits from Georgetown University.
Credits: Slave Trade (00:21)
Credits: Slave Trade
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