Southern Roots

Three guests of disparate backgrounds dig into their Southern roots, where slavery and its aftermath shaped families both black and white.

Questlove learns the name of his original African ancestors in the astonishing tale of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to arrive in the United States. On board were his third great-grandparents, smuggled into Alabama illegally just months before the start of the Civil War.

Dr. Phil McGraw discovers his ancestors understood servitude from both sides: while his third great-grandfather was killed by his own slave in Texas, three generations further back, their original immigrant ancestor arrived in Virginia as an indentured servant, working towards his freedom.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault learns the truth behind a family rumor that her maternal grandmother was the product of an affair between a white man and the young black servant his family helped raise, and traces her father’s roots back to her great-grandmother’s marriage on the Florida plantation of her probable owner.

These stories reassure our guests that they are not alone by exposing them to stories that, while painful, powerfully demonstrate that America’s racial history is shared by all.

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About Season Four

Season four of Finding Your Roots series moves fluidly from Asia and Africa to Europe and the Americas, uniting us all through emotional moments that enrich and enlighten—encouraging us to look at our world through a wider, more inclusive lens. Learn more here.

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Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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