WXXI AM News

Coming up on Connections: Tuesday, February 16

Feb 16, 2021

Credit pbslearningmedia.org

First hour: Discussing how the Our Voices Project is transforming curricula about Black history

Second hour: PBS' "Finding Your Roots," and the challenges African Americans face in tracing their ancestries

What kind of effort do school districts make to teach Black history? The West Irondequoit School District is moving beyond the usual, often narrow approach. As part of a new video series through the Our Voices Project, students are educating their peers and the public about lesser-known Black historical figures. Do you know about the lives and legacies of Jeremiah Hamilton, Bass Reeves, Afeni Shakur, and Maria Stewart? You will with our guests: 

  • Jackie McGriff, director and producer for the Our Voices Project
  • Courtney Shouse, parent, and member of the Education Task Force for Eliminating Racism and Seeking Equity (E.R.A.S.E.) 
  • Tyleea K. Payne-Harley, member of the Irondequoit High School Mosaic Club, who portrays Maria Stewart in the Our Voices Project
  • Selena G. Eyob, member of the Irondequoit High School Mosaic Club, who portrays Afeni Shakur in the Our Voices Project
  • Justin R. Connor, member of the Irondequoit High School Mosaic Club, who portrays Bass Reeves in the Our Voices Project

Then in our second hour, the seventh season of PBS' "Finding Your Roots" with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. offers another series of compelling stories about well-known people tracing their family ancestries. The episode that airs tonight features music artist Pharrell Williams, who learns some painful truths about his ancestors. Like many African Americans, Williams was unable to find much information about his genealogy due to a dearth of records before emancipation. This hour, we talk with the lead genealogist from "Finding Your Roots" about the new season, about the challenges African Americans face in tracing their ancestries, about resources available in the process, and we hear from two women who found their roots. Our guests:

  • Nick Sheedy, lead genealogist for “Finding Your Roots,” season seven 
  • Cheryl Wills, award-winning journalist, anchor for Spectrum News NY1, and author of “Emma,” “The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills,” “Emancipated: My Family’s Fight for Freedom,” and “Die Free – A Heroic Family Tale” 
  • Teej Jenkins, host of WXXI’s “Arts in Focus,” and manager and producer for WXXI