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AfriGeneas News & Announcements
December 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

African American Lives 2 to Air in February 2008


Featuring Maya Angelou, Bliss Broyard, Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman, Peter Gomes, Kathleen Henderson, Linda Johnson Rice, Tom Joyner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Chris Rock, And Tina Turner

"These stories of adversity, sacrifice, achievement, and empowerment transcend the realm of color with a universal resonance."

- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., series host and participant

Building on the widespread acclaim of African American Lives (2006) and Oprah's Roots (2007), AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2 will again journey deep into the African-American experience to reveal the triumphs and tragedies within the family histories of an all-new group of remarkable participants. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. returns as series host, guiding genealogical investigations down through the 20th century, Reconstruction, slavery and early U.S. history, and presenting cutting-edge genetic analysis that locates participants' ancestors in Africa, Europe and America.

AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2 premieres Wednesdays, February 6 and 13, 2008 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). The four-part series is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York, Kunhardt Productions, and Inkwell Films.

"These discoveries about our ancestors are fascinating stories that everyone, regardless of race, can identify with and draw inspiration from," said Gates, Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. "They're stories that together offer a new understanding of not only the African American experience, but also of race in America."

Joining Professor Gates in the new broadcast are poet Maya Angelou, author Bliss Broyard, actor Don Cheadle, actor Morgan Freeman, theologian Peter Gomes, publisher Linda Johnson Rice, athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, radio personality Tom Joyner, comedian Chris Rock, rock 'n' roll legend Tina Turner, and college administrator Kathleen Henderson, who was selected from more than 2,000 applicants to have her family history researched and DNA tested alongside the series' well-known guests.

"Through even greater depth of research and more powerful storytelling, all of the stories in AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2 share a common thread - they show the value of knowing who you are and where you come from," added Gates. "And now, the inclusion of Kathleen's story shows that viewers everywhere can take this same journey."

Episode One, "The Road Home," will focus on participants' ancestors in the early 20th century. Stories include the tragic account of Tom Joyner's great-uncles, who in 1915 were convicted by an all-white jury and executed in the electric chair for a crime that new evidence suggests they did not commit; and Bliss Broyard, who lived her life unaware that her father, renowned New York Times critic Anatole Broyard, was a light-skinned black man who chose to "pass" as white. She only learned of her African-American roots upon her father's death in 1990.

Episode Two, "A Way Out of No Way," will continue tracing the guests' lineages back through the late 1800s to the Civil War, featuring such stories as Chris Rock's maternal great-great grandfather, Julius Caesar Tingman, a black Civil War veteran who was twice elected to the South Carolina State Legislature; and Don Cheadle's ancestors, who had been enslaved by Chickasaw Indians and brought to Oklahoma on the tail end of the "trail of tears," the forced relocation of Native Americans during the 1830s.

Episode Three, "We Come from People," reveals stories of participants' ancestors during the early years of the United States, such as a riveting account of life in slavery by Morgan Freeman's great-grandmother, discovered within the records of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, and Peter Gomes's ancestors, who were freed and supported by Quaker families in Virginia in the late 1700s.

DNA analysis leads to fascinating discoveries about participants' lineages in Episode Four, "The Past Is Another Country." A groundbreaking study links Professor Gates to a powerful ancient Irish warlord, while evidence suggests Peter Gomes's direct paternal line traces back to a Portuguese Jew who fled the country in the early 1500s to escape the Inquisition.

Launching the week of January 28, the companion Web site for AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2 ( will provide resources for visitors to pursue their own family genealogy; further information on the series' research, scholarship and science; interactive scrapbooks for each series participant; a social media application that allows users to upload and tag their own family stories; lesson plans and media-rich classroom activities for teachers, and more. In cooperation with seven public television stations across the country, a far-reaching educational outreach effort will guide K-through-12 teachers in the use of the broadcast program, Web site, and educational print materials in standards-based classroom instruction.

AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2 will be available on DVD through PBS Home Video at in spring 2008. A book by Professor Gates, In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, will be published by Crown, a division of Random House, in spring 2008 as well. Incorporating the family histories of all the participants from African American Lives, Oprah's Roots, and AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2, the book presents further discoveries not included in the broadcasts while weaving the narratives together into an unprecedented tapestry of the African-American experience.

Major corporate funding for AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2 and its outreach initiatives is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional funding is provided by Buick. Funding is also provided by public television viewers and PBS.

AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2 is a co-production of Thirteen/WNET New York, Kunhardt Productions and Inkwell Films. Executive producers are Henry Louis Gates Jr., William R. Grant, Peter W. Kunhardt, and Dyllan McGee. Graham Judd is senior producer. Leslie Asako GladsjŲ, Jesse Sweet, and Jack Youngelson are producers/directors.

Source: WNET - New York

Posted by Staff on 12/26/07 at 6:38 am EST

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tips for Gathering Family History During the Holidays

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Gather family history

Ask right questions to make project fun, enlightening

Gannett News Service

Along with your holiday dinner, enjoy an enriching dish of family history. It's an ideal time to mine your family's lore and ask some long-postponed questions.

That's how Margaret Rennaker, 74, of Scottsdale, Ariz., discovered her mother's side of the family was known for having photographic memories.

Inquisitiveness led Marsha Allen, 59, of Tempe, Ariz., to learn her great-grandmother was 42 when she gave birth to Allen's grandfather.

Both women belong to the Family History Society of Arizona. One of the goals of the 270-member group is to record family history for future generations.

Rennaker says the holiday exercise should be fun, rather than focused on dates and ages.

"Don't make it about births, deaths, marriages. You need to get the stories," Rennaker said. "Without the stories, you have no history."

Here are suggestions on how to extract important family information and have a good time:

Read the rest of the story . . .

Source: Poughkepsie Journal

Posted by Staff on 12/17/07 at 8:07 pm EST

6 Jul 2003 :: 06 Jan 2008
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