WXXI AM News

Connections: "Finding Your Roots," and the challenges African Americans face in tracing ancestry

Feb 16, 2021

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 producer for WXXI-TV 

For more information about "Finding Your Roots" and resources to help trace your ancestry, click here.