Henry Louis Gates: Genealogy and African American History

this ucsd-tv program is a presentation of university of california television for educational and non-commercial use only good evening good evening everybody good evening and welcome good evening it’s delightful to see the ballroom at capacity seating I am Alan Havis Provost of Thurgood Marshall College I would now like to provide a brief introduction to our distinguished keynote speaker and I could go on for hours but I have to make this short dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr considered to be one of the most influential academic voices in America is the Alphonse Fletcher University professor and director of the w eb Dubois Institute for African and African American research at Harvard University author of countless books articles essays and reviews dr. Gates who has displayed an endless dedication to bringing African American culture to the public has co-written co edited and produced some of the most comprehensive african-american reference material ever created in 2006 dr. Gates wrote and produced the PBS documentary called african-american lives the first documentary series to employ genealogy and genetic science to provide an understanding of african-american history in 2007 a follow-up documentary Oprah’s roots in african-american lives special aired on PBS further examining the genealogy genealogical heritage of Oprah Winfrey the second series african-american lives 2 aired on PBS in February 2008 dr. gates also wrote and produced the documentaries wonders of the African world in 2000 and America beyond the color line in 2004 for the BBS and PBS networks and authored the companion volumes to both series PBS broadcast his newest documentary looking for a Lincoln in February 2009 even a shock walked down a busy Airport corridor with dr. gates last night one will witness dozens of bystanders recognizing his face and asking to shake his hand and he shook every hand he’s most recognized for his extensive research of african-american history and literature and for developing and expanding the African American Studies program at Harvard University the first black to have received a PhD from Cambridge University dr. Henry Louis Gates earned his MA and PhD in English literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge and his BA in history from Yale University before joining the Faculty of Harvard in 1991 he taught at Yale Cornell and Duke his numerous honors and grants include a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant in 1981 the George bulk sorry the George Polk award for social commentary in 1993 Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans list in 1997 a National Humanities medal in 1998 an election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999 he has received 49 honorary degrees and in 2006 he was inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution after he traced his remarkable lineage back to John Redmond a free Negro who fought in the American Revolution war it is my sincere and warm honor and distinct pleasure to now welcome dr Henry Lewis gates to the podium thank you Thank You Alan that kind introduction is to all of you all for coming out ignoring the world series to hear me talk about genealogy and genetics Alan was right we flew back on the same plane from New York last night and just by coincidence and then he was kind enough to drive me to the hotel and he said that that a few people recognized me and asked to shake my hand but he did the only reason not because my scholarship because I was arrested

everybody knows I go you’re the beer guy you’re the big I go yeah I’m the beer guy man you know do you not many people have asked me was the beer cold I mean they all think it’s original right I got the damn beer it was cold it was cold it was cool how was the beer of the vial oh man it was great best beer I’ve ever had in my whole life I’m making a new film series on black people Latin America I’ve shot it I’m just writing the scripts it’ll be on in April called black and Latin America and I was filming just in the middle-class families home in Brazil and we had been there with the film crew for about an hour and an uncle burst in and he just googled me and he’d been across town man we drove through traveling you got your Obama your the book the beer man you can have a go yeah man even in Brazil you know what can I say what could I say but thank you so much for being here I love UCSD I love San Diego I don’t know it very well I’ve lectured here a long long time ago nobody can even remember when but I have one of my best friends in the world Anthony Davis who’s professor of music here and his wife Cindy were very close friends and their son Jonah I’m his Godfather so I love coming through and and seeing them but especially I think whenever I come near San Diego or here I think about Shirley Ann Williams who was great professor of African American literature and the great novelist and I miss her very much much too young and earlier at a reception but I want to announce this in case anybody wants to contribute I decided to take part of my honorarium and offered to the University to create a prize in Shirley Ann Williams honor so give it up for Shirley Ann whoo alright willing to start with a video clip and then I’ll talk and then I’ll answer some questions okay if we can play that coming to PBS in February african-american lives – Wow I’m in for ride here I’m fired up now Wow I think that’s pretty remarkable it’s a very personal look at American history it’s my family that we’re talking about it’s not some story in a book all of the little stories our amazing are fascinating a lot has been stolen from black Americans a lot has been hidden from black Americans and so there’s always a longing to know who you are and where you come from intimate stories bring our country’s past to life sandy Anderson Charleston Mississippi my master was mr. herb King Oh mr. Cain bought my father and mother North Carolina when they was little chillin but after I was born he sold my father to a man named Colonel right nine years after rib time before I ever seed my father again you’re the only person I know who can reach out and touch a remnant of their families history and slavery so that’s your great-grandfather William McGirt do you see anyone who could have been his mother well I guess it could have been one of these two women Emily a woman at $700 value and park a woman $700 right a park or Emily the next record we found is dated October 1855 Emily the woman we thought might have been William’s mother is purchased by another MacAlpine heir and park has disappeared by this time altogether so William is without mother at all Williams without mother at oak excuse me tark I can only um you know imagine being separated from my daughter it’s just hard hard to imagine and the exploration reveals little-known events in history take a look at this Chickasaw Nation

freedmen roll this document is an official enrollment card for the Chickasaw freedmen the former slaves owned by the Chickasaw Nation owned by the Chickasaw Nation owned five a Chickasaw Nation your ancestors were enslaved by Native Americans you are one of the few african-americans who does not enslave my wife here look at mine and America pick I don’t know what I feel about that that’s mind blowing and I had no idea I mean I had neither this is amazing there are moments of heartbreaking tragedy now Ruth Griffin your grandmama had been born and raised that Blackstock South Carolina and her family owned land there did you know that yeah I don’t know anything about her background according to the 1930 census the Griffins had disappeared from Blackstock South Carolina now we know that Ruth moved to Florida but what happened to the rest of the family two of her brothers were named Meeks and Tom Griffin I’m gonna show you their death certificates to the plane which it’s legal legal electrocution cause of death legally like the electrocuted my yep we discovered that in 1913 your great-uncle’s hmm along with three other men were charged with killing a Confederate Civil War veteran a white man named John Lewis more we looked into the case time the more questions we had so we discovered that the defense only had two days to prepare for the trial there’s no way that your two great uncle’s could have prepared a defense in so short a time but essentially the moment that your great-uncle’s Meeks and Tom recused of the murder they were powerless to defend themselves badly grows killed in the electric chair with protestations of innocence on their lips is to make to get a it’s overturn to come well don’t Victor never too late clear their name you can create we can still clearly means despite the heartache their stories of joyful triumph this is a land deed from Benjamin B Flagg your great grandfather George flags older brother I Benjamin B flag a flag of Haywood County Tennessee for the sum of $25 cash have sold to the trustee of flag that’s right flags flag Grove schoolhouse mm-hmm one acre of land one acre of land flag Grove was my know he made it possible to create flags Grove school I went to flag room school elementary school it’s great just great your great-great-grandfather Julius Caesar tingman served in the US Colored Troops during the Civil War I’m gonna cry I can’t believe it you got me and there’s more guests discover who their ancestors were and where they came from you are descended from the Luba people fascinate you are 33 percent European and you’ll see there’s no figure for Native American cousin got no name do I look like an Irishman to you I’m here to find my roots I’ve been looking for my roots all over Africa couldn’t find anybody so I ended up up here Peter you are descended from a Joyce man well that’s surprising every family worth belonging you as a Jew in it somewhere this suggested on your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s side you are Mende I know this is so there’s so many surprises here but this one is it’s not a surprise and we consider what it means to be African American you are what you have to defend hmm cuz it doesn’t matter that I’m 19 percent your opinion eighty-one percent African in America I have to deal with the problems that black people in America either struggle doesn’t challenge that black people in America have it’s being an African American and cultural rather than genetic for me it’s

both for me it is it is absolutely both heritage is so complex that we have to be simple and we have to consider ourselves global human beings are more alike than we are on a night and no human being can be more human than another African American lives – thank you thank you now how did a guy with the PhD in English literature from the University of Cambridge get involved in doing genealogy and genetics and what difference does it make to african-american history this is the oldest gates that we can trace name is Jane gates she was a slave and I want to tell you the day that I met her not literally obviously but when I first saw this photograph it was July 3rd 1960 and it was the day that they buried my grandfather Edward st. Lawrence gates Edward st. Lawrence Gates was the son of Edward gates senior my great-grandfather was born in slavery 1857 you can see how fair he is his father was a white man and this is my grandfather Edward st Lawrence Gates born in 1879 died in 1960 now he was so light complected that the kids you know my generation the cousins called him Casper behind his back he looked like a white man we couldn’t figure out why he looked like a white man but he looked like a white man so I am standing in front of his casket on July 3rd 1960 holding my father’s hand I’m nine years old now my father’s still alive thank God my father’s 97 years old Henry Louise the real Henry Louis Gates my father is the funniest bad I know my father makes Redd Foxx look like an undertaker I’ll tell you how funny is because it’s important to the story when I was growing up now I was born in 1950 I wanted to be I want to go to Harvard Yale and I wanted to be a Rhodes Scholar I wanted to go to Oxford to Cambridge my mama god rest her soul wanted to doctors my brothers an oral surgeon and he’s five years old and I am and there was a little old me in my day little color boys and color girls as we would have said in the 50s who were smart raised to be doctors it was the next closest thing to divinity that you could be in the black community so that’s what I was going to be but I want to go to Harvard Yale and want to go to Cambridge so I’ve always been as our people say been blessed in the classroom and I went to junior college but until I’m a big fan of junior colleges Union College my freshman year and then I transferred from Piedmont from Kaiser West Virginia for Potomac State College to Yale and I did very very well at Yale and I was junior year Phi bade I was graduating summa laude and I’m telling you that not to brag but because I knew that I was going to get one of these fellowships to go to Oxford Cambridge because I was black I was from West Virginia you know it was 1973 and I had almost straight A’s so you know what’s not to like right so I applied to all of these fellowships to go to Oxford and Cambridge I applied for Rose I applied for Marshall I applied for a Fulbright for Ches me Mel at all these fellowships and I knew I was so cocky particularly I want the students here this I was so cocky I was so overcome fidence I thought I would get all seven then I’d be pick and choose like a deck of cards you know like a hand so okay which one I want to take but guess what the first six I was a finalist for the first sixth and I didn’t get any of those fellowships none of those fellowships and I was in real panic because I hadn’t applied to any kind of graduate school because I was going to go to Oxford Cambridge right and my girlfriend at the time was is now professor at Stanford african-american woman Linda darling Linda darling-hammond many of you know her we were big junior your item at Yale you know that’s back in the day we had dueling afros I had a big fro I know it’s hard to imagine but it’s true you could go online and look at my fate whatever the equivalent Facebook was back then I had a you know Cornel West my main man Cornel West look like a crew-cut that afro so I tell Cornell but he doesn’t believe me either so I went to Lind it I was in tears you know what am I going to do she caught me skipping her that’s bugging me my mom will call me Skippy sidled so she goes you’re being phony you’re being artificial just go in there and be yourself so I went in for my last I mean what I have to lose right I went into the last fellowship and I got this

fellowship building picked two of these fellows ago the University of Cambridge and I was one of the people and it was the happy other than the day that my days my two daughters were born ladies and gentlemen is a happiest day of my life without a doubt so I went back to Calhoun College at Yale you know the dorms at Yale are like here named colleges this was named for that great liberal John C Calhoun we used to call the Calhoun plantation back in back in the Wild West days of revolution we had always we’d pick it and boycott trying to get them to change the name of this Callens but they wouldn’t do it so I went back to my room in Calhoun College and I called back home and it was four o’clock in the afternoon I’ll never forget it and daddy picked up the phone and I said daddy daddy mama on the extension for remember those days you didn’t have two phones you had a phone and an extension phone I don’t know what genius thought of this system but you had an extension so daddy was downstairs Bob was upstairs ago mom and daddy you’ll never believe it you never believe I’m the first afro-american now remember this 1973 we were Afro Americans back then I’m the first afro-american to get a Mellon fellowship I am going to Cambridge I’m going to University Cambridge my daddy without missing a beat said you’re the first Negro to get a Mellon fellowship I go yeah daddy he said huh they’re gonna call it the watermelon fellowship from now now you talk about politically incorrect my father is the most politically incorrect person I’ve ever met so arm of my watermelon fellowship I when I was a university I sight that just to say how funny my father is so go back with me to July 3rd 1960 I’m holding my father’s hand the same funny man standing in front of his father’s corpse and I stupidly you know looked at how white my grandfather looked now if he look like Casper alive with blood coursing through his veins imagine how white he looked dead he looked like he was alabaster big coated with white paint and I thought he looked ridiculous and I heard this noise from My Father so I thought he was laughing at how ridiculous we called him pop-pop gates was and so I started to laugh now all as we would have said then all the colored people in Cumberland Maryland were gathered in the kite funeral home because my grandfather’s Provident Band in the black community and I started laughing in front of my grandfather’s corpse fortunately I looked up to my father to share the joke and the noise that I’d heard with tears sobbing he was crying hysterically over his father’s death and I was mortified of how stupid I had been how embarrassed myself in front of everybody and all the color people in in Cumberland Maryland but nobody noticed me because they were all busy staring at my father so when I looked at him I was mortified and also it was the first time I ever saw my father cry so I started to cry too so it’s very traumatic day so here’s what happened they buried my grandfather and then we went back to the gates family home and the gates family homes still there still gates family home my cousin John and gates owns it it was bought by Jane gates this woman this is her midwifery costume she was a midwife and it was she bought it she was a slave until 1865 and then bought a house in an all-white neighborhood in 1870 $1,200 we have the deed now where’d she get that money she didn’t save her pennies in slavery right so you know with this is all the way and all the kids look white so you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to begin to figure where this came from like my father my father took my brother and me upstairs to my in my grandparents house now I don’t know about you all but back in the day you didn’t even I didn’t even know my grandparents had a bedroom we never went to migrate your grandparents bedroom you know things were very formal you called I still called mom well my father’s 97 so most of his friends have passed but they’re a couple or alive I still say miss Rossi and Miss Mary I never would presume to call them by their first name you know I don’t know how it is here you are more casual in California but when students coming to me I just turned 60 right and students say well can I call you by your first name and I go yes and then go what said I said professor when you get a PhD then you could be talking about my first name so anyway but I’m always cool so my brother and I are being taken upstairs in my grandparents house to their bedroom we know they had upstairs right so we are looking at each other like where are we going and my dad takes us back to their bedroom and they have a Sun porch off their bedroom it’s still there and daddy I can see it just as clear as as if it were yesterday daddy takes us out on the Sun porch and there’s a big cabinet I like a wardrobe and he opens it and it’s full of Bank

Ledger’s my grandfather was a janitor and cleaned the First National Bank in Cumberland Maryland and he was stealing these Bank Ledger’s so my brother and I looked each other like damn we must be rich you know we got Bank Ledger’s busted counting our money but as soon as daddy opened him he was looking for something and my brother not looking over his shoulder they were scrapbooks my grandfather clipped newspapers and he was he had two fascinations that I could see even looking over his shoulder and I own one of these well I have a printout of one we had it had a photographer take a picture one because it’s so valuable now the one that’s that’s left in the family he had a Morton fascination with death so that every kind of death people killed in airplane crashes people killed in railroad crises people killed in automobile crisis but particularly the war did every day in the newspaper the number of people were killed that the day before in World War two he clipped it every day so that he was turning these pages looking for something his other area of special concern was black history he had all these article the first Negro judge in New York City 1942 I mean I was amazed to see that he was a race man you know deep down and that was a good thing you know what Adam Clayton Powell was doing in Harlem and in Congress and lots of things like marian anderson’s famous concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial all that’s in these multiple volumes these scrapbooks that were made out of Bank Ledger’s but Danny starting he’s looking for something like if something and finally finds it he goes here you boys look at this and it was an obituary and it was an obituary dated January 6 1888 and it said died this day in Cumberland Maryland Jane gates an estimable colored woman an estimable colored woman and daddy said that is the oldest gates and I never want you to forget her well the next day was the fourth of July oh oh well we went home that night and before I went to bed we were always my father worked two jobs he worked the paper mill in the day and he was a janitor in the evening so we always had you know among the black community we always were very comfortable and I always had my own bedroom and so do my brother and more importantly for my mom I always had a desk and had a bookcase and that night before I went to bed I had one of those read Webster’s dictionaries remember those Webster’s dictionaries and I kept it on my desk and the last thing I did before I went to bed I looked up Allen the word estimable because I didn’t know what it meant and I thought wow this lady must be very special the next day was in fourth of July and we had the what we used to call the colored picnic the color cookout and everybody black in our segregated town Piedmont West Virginia by the way is halfway between Pittsburgh and Washington on the Potomac River and coverlets right on the Maryland West Virginia border the gates has lived in Cumberland Maryland the Colemans my mother’s family they’re 20 miles away in on the West Virginia side so we went to the cookout and on the way back I stopped at Red Bulls newsstand in the middle of our town population 2,000 people an Irish Italian paper mill town with 2,000 people when I was born 380 six of whom were black all right so you get the picture I stopped the red bulls newsstand I bought a composition book and you know what I did that night I interviewed my parents about their family tree I asked them what their mother’s name was their father’s name where they were born when I had absolutely no precedent for doing this I have no explanation today why I did it but since that day in July 1960 I have been obsessed with my own family tree so that’s how I got interested now I was just a little kid so I would get bored with these conversation books sometimes I would even lose them so I would start the whole process over again but I never lost the passion for finding out about my ancestors on the Coleman side and the gate side and we could go back to Jane gates and this was her son she only told her children she had five children she only said they were fathered by a white man which was obvious if you look at her kids and they all had the same father but she took the secret of this white man’s identity to her grave and you know how was back in the day I mean way back in the day people didn’t want to talk about slavery you know we’ve lost so many records because our people have suffered so much and they don’t want to relive that pain and it’s a great loss to us as scholars and as people and as a people not to have that record so she took the identity of her lover the man who fathered all of her children to to her

grave but this was her son Edward who she had a – he had a 200 acre farm which where my father was born it’s still there Patterson’s Creek West Virginia and then as this was his son Edward st. Lawrence case well cuts in 1977 you could say what’s the greatest event in the history of miniseries and TV routes so you could say since 1977 I’ve had one serious case of roots envy you know I had this little composition book I could go back to my great great I mean my great grandmother great-great grandmother on my father’s side on my mother’s side great-grandmother but that was it there was Alex Haley coming out of the blue could go all the way to Africa he could go to the ship that brought his African ancestors over and then he went all the way back to Gambia so I was totally jealous of Alex Haley and I so I had a profound and severe case of roots in me but I figured well I’ll never only Alex Haley could do that right so I got to know Quincy Jones in 1999 Anthony Appiah by dear friend and I edited the African encyclopedia and then we found it African and calm which we and we needed some investors and by this time it’s complicated when I gotten to be friends equipment see Jones still a great friend of mine and Quincy introduced me in Alex Haley and more than that Quincy it turned out was obsessed with genealogy as well Quincy scored the music for roots so for Christmas he would give people their family trees so you know I thought about that and but there was nothing I could do about that well here’s a funny thing happened you never know Bible says be careful what you wish for in the year 2000 a young black geneticist named dr. Rick Kittles who at the time was teaching at Howard University sent me a letter he’s now at the University of Chicago Medical School and he said that he was asking various african-american men if they would submit themselves to this new test and to this test he could trace on your mother’s line where in Africa you were from man that was some serious stuff and I said yeah I mean I called him right away and I said definitely and he said that of all the people he’d written nobody was right him back and I later I couldn’t figure out why but I later found out why so I said would you want me to come to Washington he goes no I’ll come up to Harvard Square it’s where I was living so in about a week later he showed up and now I’ve had many operations I broke my hip and I was playing football when I was about 14 it was misdiagnosed by country doctors I’ve had a zillion operations on my leg right so I know about having blood extracted if you could see my veins my veins is just look at a vial and blood pours out right I’m very easy to get my blood well after a half an hour I realized that two things that dr. Rick Kittles is a brilliant geneticist but he’s not brilliant at extracting blood I also realized why no other black male was stupid enough then let him come up to try to take their blood that brother kept poking around I thought damn let’s come to Kinsey stuff is real hard work how badly do I want to know where I’m from in Africa but I really wanted to know I’d wanted to know since I was nine years old so you know let’s go for it so finally see at the time you had to extract a lot of DNA in order to run the tests now you just swab your cheek or spit in the test tube depending on the company that that usually we could talk about that a little bit later so it’s very easy and it’s very painless so I waited and I waited and I waited you know Rick Kittles went back to Washington I waited waited waited for the result and I didn’t hear from him so finally I called him and you know how people do I he picked up the phone after I call them about a million times he goes oh man I was just about to return your phone call I said Rick what’s up man where am i from in Africa world my people you know I want to jump on a plane and go I thought I’d buy some land you know get a fine little African sister you know to hook up I was single at the time don’t get me wrong I’m still single well so he said well we had to run your results were anomalous and we had to run them many times but we finally have figured out where you’re from you are descended on your mother’s side from the Nubian people now all african-american all african-american men II african-americans want to be descended from one or two ethnic groups either the Zulu because of chocos or Lu and the Zulu kicked the English in the behind in the Boer Wars right until they finally were overcome but you want to be Zulu or you want to be Nubian who are the Nubians Nubians were the black pharaohs

right the newbies are in the Bible 25th dynasty was the nubian dynasty in Egyptian art they always hated the Nubians Nubians are always represented as darker you know they were warring kingdoms and Nubia ran from what today’s Khartoum the capital of Sudan up to the Aswan Dam the second cataract in the Nile River and so a nubian and all these people wanted to be Nubians descended from the black pharaohs so my friend Molefi assad – you don’t the founder of Afrocentricity we argued a lot in public but we’re very good friends privately I joke every time he attacks me I get a raise at Harvard so it’s cool right so I attack him you know we do what Malcolm and Martin couldn’t do you know set it up there we go split the money and slap five and go to Sylvia’s have fried chicken believe me that’s a much better way to function and hating each other so I called malefic first thing I said Molefi I just got my results back I am manubrium where are you from I am the true African Prince my friend Anthony Appiah who is whose uncle was Hassan tahini the king of the Asante people and when Rick Kittles sent me a certificate announcing I was Nubian Anthony Appiah looked at and said what a ton of rubbish now why would he say that well it’s a slight problem with being either Zulu or Nubian if you’re african-american you know the problem is none of our ancestors who came here and slavery came from South Africa the Zulu people or from Nubia none zero Egypt is over here the slaves came from the area from Senegal down to Angola ninety seven percent of the slaves came from that region alright so you know how long it would take it to walk from Sudan to Senegal or to Angola it just didn’t happen so I looked at Antony and I said you just jealous because I am a nubian Prince I didn’t care I had to framed I put it up in my living room so everybody can see that I was royalty excited think of I thought maybe restraint maybe was on a trade route you know there were great Muslim trade routes you know today is important for the students in my time we were taught that the Africans were these B’nai tada and they were too stupid to build a boat or to be curious about the world and cross the Sahara Desert rubbish Africans are just as curious anybody else the Sahara Desert was a highway it wasn’t a barrier so I thought well and there were great trade routes so I thought maybe my Nubian descended to come over and ended up being tricked by some white man and ended up in Maryland or Virginia or something so that was cool and if I needed an interpretation believe me I could have produced one so and by the way you know the Zulu thing when we gave when Oprah is finally in the first series and we gave her DNA test basically the next day she went to South Africa to announce that she was opening her what became the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy she was in a auditorium like 75,000 people or something and she announced she just had the test and the seat was Zulu so I it broke on CNN I was sitting in my living room minding my own business and said Oprah Winfrey’s a Zulu so I called Rick Kittles and I said Rick did you tell Oprah she was a Zulu he goes no man she made that up herself haha is it true story is it sir I would lie to make you laugh but I’m telling you juice sir so I said Rick are you in your lab he said yeah I said is anybody there he said no I said when the results come in maker Zulu man I said you back there making it up anyway nobody believed you could take some spit and figure out a tribe what are you crazy so anyway I was a nubian and it was cool well here’s the miracle one of the many miracles thank God that happened in my life I got up in the middle of night and to be honest I tell you I got up to go to bathroom and I was standing there in the bathroom minded my own business and I had an idea and here’s what was the idea I would take this passion I had from the time I was 9 years old in genealogy and I would get 8 prominent African Americans and I would trace their family tree back into the abyss of slavery back to the time when the paper trail disappears because inevitably it disappears for all of us all of our

ancestors just wasn’t a paper trail you can’t trace people there’s no printed record and then when the paper trail disappears I would do their DNA and tell them where they were from in Africa I was so excited I had tears of mines and I couldn’t wait till the next thing the next day I called my buddy Quincy Jones now Quincy is like a vampire Quincy is up all night long because he was a jazz musician and when the Sun comes up he goes a bit so you can’t do business with Quincy till after 3 o’clock in the afternoon not just the way it is so I waited till 3 o’clock afternoon I called out to bel-air or up to bel-air down yeah I forget where I am San Diego and I said and he person put him on the line I said Q would you if I could do for you what Alex did would you be in a PBS series I had no money I had nothing just an idea and it’s very important to the students I just had an idea and I said would you be in it and he said could you do that and I said yeah he said does it hurt and I lied and said no no I don’t her I said are you in he said I’m in now who’s his best friend Oprah Winfrey so I said okay man you’re in I waited beat beat I said would you call Oprah and ask her to be in he went uh no but he said I’m going to do something you know because everybody hustles Oprah and if you’re a friend you can’t be bringing ideas you know because people want Oprah to write a check to do everything hmm so he said I’m gonna do you a favor I’m gonna give you her secret name and address and you write her a letter and at no guarantees man and so I wrote a letter dear Miss Winfrey and you know I figured it’s like throwing them a message in the bottle throwing it in the ocean right a week later it was a Sunday my cell phone rang and it was Quincy calling and I say hey Q what’s happening and a deep woman’s voice dr. gates this is Oprah Winfrey what are you talking about Oprah Winfrey was calling me ha ha people don’t call powerful people don’t call you with bad news somebody taught me that a long time ago if she was calling it was good news she didn’t call and say I got your letter no and don’t like me again she said I’d be honored to be in the series now students why is it important because to do this series I needed six million dollars and it’s hard to raise six million dollars so but when I walked into these corporations and I said how would you like your product associated with the whole world knowing what ethnic group Oprah Winfrey is the senator from you know what is like you see that ceiling it was like that ceiling opened up and a giant ATM machine came they said how much you need it’s like that Eddie Murphy reaching memory Eddie Murphy Toni becomes white and he goes to the bank and he goes once that you wanted to fill out the application what application there’s none of them here how much money do you need well that’s how it was for me and the result was African American lives and this was the poster I don’t know if you could see it but an upper left-hand corner Whoopi Goldberg will be heard that we were doing the series had called and Amanda to begin the series Tony and and I graduated from Yale as I said earlier our classmate was dr. ben Carson and you know Ben Carson’s chief of pediatric neurosurgery Johns Hopkins the first surgeon successfully to separate Siamese twins and joined at the head you know what I didn’t want all entertainers and athletes I wanted to show white people as we say that they were you know black doctors neurosurgeons you know his brother was serious mae Jemison the first black astronaut graduated African American Studies major at Sanford then went to medical school first black female astronaut you know you can’t get more scientific than that there’s a big ol under her where’s Quincy in the middle Chris Tucker I’d gotten to know Chris Tucker by this time it was I think a genius one of the funniest people Bishop TD jakes I wanted a man of the cloth or a woman of the cloth and td’s my homeboy from West Virginia not that many black people in West Virginia so I wanted TV to be in it and then my colleague under Chris is Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot who’s a professor at Harvard of sociology and the result was African American lives it was a total risk a total gamble and you know what it was they’ve got the biggest rating of any documentary in the history of PBS thank you well I learned I had to do a lot of research to put this together and I learned a few facts that I want to share with you and then I’ll stop and I’ll

answer some questions but this is fascinating it has implications for every one of African descent in this room we’re all Africans I was talking through the students had a great meeting this morning we’re all descended from Africa but 50,000 years ago and most of that African DNA as it were has disappeared and it’s complicated to explain but what we do is test people test your ancestry back to the last with one test the last 500 years since the time of Columbus and that would obtain a pertain to the people who are black quote-unquote in this room well when I went to Harvard 1991 I’ve raised money to count the slaves they’re a group of scholars who were trying to count the number of Africans brought to the new world the entire new world in the slave trade and some were in Liverpool some are in Angola somewhere in Cuba some are in Brazil all these scholars and someone came to me and said if you raise money that you could bring these people together to be historic and that’s what we did the result you could go home and look at it it’s free online is called the transatlantic slave trade database and these scholars looked at 36,000 voyages of slave ships it was capitalism so the records were there it was property right and those records are still there and guess what they counted 12.5 million Africans shipped between 1502 and 1867 to the new world 12.5 million 15 percent about died in the Middle Passage so let’s say 11.2 million we know Africans our ancestors got off the slave ships in the New World here’s the amazing fact of that 11 point 2 million only 450,000 came to the United States only 450,000 Africans came to the United States between 1619 and well the end of slavery was 1865 but most of 99% of the slaves are here by 1820 all the rest over 10.5 million went to places essentially south of San Diego Texas in Miami they all went to the Caribbean and Latin America isn’t that astonishing and we know that over five million of those slaves that’s with what this slide shows went from Africa to South America just under a 4.5 million were shipped directly from Africa to the Caribbean and 388,000 Africans were shipped directly from Africa to the United States and another 60,000 touched down briefly in the Caribbean and then came to the United States and we know where they were shipped from so that we know that 16.7% of our ancestors came from Eastern Nigeria Ebola and 2.4 percent came from banana in western Nigeria 24 percent came from Congo Angola that means if I did the DNA of every black person in this room one in four of you would descend from an ethnic group that is clustered around Congo Angola it is an amazing amazing tool and this thing didn’t exist 15 years ago so that we and we know that another 24 percent of our ancestors came from Senegal Gambia Sena Gambia and that’s where remember Alex traced his family to so it’s an incredible it’s an incredible tool we also know that how how American are African Americans well by the day Thomas Jefferson who was the father of the Declaration of Independence and the father Sally Hemings children by the way the day that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence seventy-five percent of our African ancestors were here in this country by 1880 percent of our ancestors were here and by 1820 ninety-nine point seven percent of our ancestors were here here’s another amazing statistic 1860 there were 3.9 million slaves according to the federal census and there were four hundred eighty-eight thousand free Colored as they were called or free african-americans now this is the shock of that fourth figure of 488 thousand free african-american people only I’m sorry of that figure there were only 225,000 living in the North more free Negroes lived in the south and stated the Confederate states and the border states where slavery was free through the Civil War then lived in the north this is counterintuitive because we’re raised to think that the slave was first reading first to write was the first to runaway is this male read puns but that’s not the way it was and why would that be because in many of these states when you were free your master in order

to discourage your master from freeing you your master had to give you property and had to give you enough money to survive so what are you going to do go to New York go to Philadelphia where you knew no one or stay in the south and that’s what they did this is the kind of amazing stuff that we discovered now we gave everybody in the series three tests if you’re a man we gave you a Y DNA test of your woman who had a male descendant of the father the grandfather we gave that man a Y DNA test the reason the men are men in this room is because of Y DNA but women don’t have Y DNA we all have mitochondrial DNA and your mitochondrial DNA you inherit from your mother your Y DNA from your father if your man is exactly the same your mitochondrial DNA from your mother is exactly the same yours isn’t whether your man a woman is the same as your mother’s hers the same as her mother’s hers the same is her mother’s that’s why they can trace you back to Lucy or traces all back to loose through your DNA and finally the pie chart is your admixture in which we examine how how much African ancestor you have how much Native American or Asian ancestry or how much European ancestry and this chart shows you the number of ancestors you have of the sixth generation we have two parents you have four grandparents you have eight great-grandparents sixteen great-great grandparents all the way up to 64 great-great-grandparents and this is how your DNA markers are passed down why DNA is passed down from a father to his sons and a mitochondrial DNA is passed down from a mother to the son or daughter and what we do to trace your African ancestry have this huge database we go all over Africa testing people and we say what is your ethnic group and they might say Ebola or Yoruba and then we test this young lady right there and if you match in the computers like ding if you have the same mitochondrial DNA structure as the person who says their ebo and a lots of evil people then that means you share an evil ancestor in common it’s as simple and as complicated as that we call it guilt by association and that’s how we find now this is a and I’ma wrap up and take a few questions because they have to take me to dinner after this thing is over we sign books because I could never eat before I talk and I want a glass of wine I can’t come to California and not do that but doing these series I found that the big three myths of african-american genealogy the first one is that I am descended from an ebow princess and she was so beautiful that her foot never touched the sordid soil of slavery that there was a German count walking by the shipyard the docks in Charleston and he looked over and saw my great-great-grandmother and said man she is fine that is my evo princess and he goes and he buys her and makes her his wife and they live happily ever after it never happened never happened it malcolm gladwell I was on Martha’s Vineyard a couple summers ago very prominent african-american woman said to me I said do you know where your answers were in slavery she said we were never slaves look at point number two because my great-great grandmother was the ebo princess and there was a German walking by and he brought it I go oh really and the next day and I told her that was true she got very angry at me so I decided to be cool about how I told people that they were believing myths the next thing Malcolm Gladwell was in my last series face of America I called him and I said Malcolm would you be in my new series he said yeah and I said how far can you trace your ancestry said oh man I’m so glad again somebody to tell you no we found out I’ve decided from an ebow prison I go yeah yeah I heard this story the third myth okay I want everybody to be honest just African Americans in this room how many of you are descended from a Native American just raise your hand don’t be shame there you go look at all them Native Americans well I Got News for you nothing are descended from Native America my grandmother had high cheekbones and straight black hair every Negro I know claimed that in 1950 well guess what the DNA evidence shows only 5% of the African American people 1 out of 20 have any significant Native American ancestry but but one out of 20 but on the other hand 58 percent of the African American people have a significant amount of white ancestry you know that those high cheekbones and straight black hair that came from your white great-great grandfather the average african-american and the average the Native American never saw each other I don’t know about you all but you can’t sleep with the

internet can do a lot but you can’t sleep with somebody you can’t see the average admixture for African Americans is the average black person is 77% black 17.5% European and 5% Native American now I went to see I was telling students this morning I went to see LeBron lose against the Celtics on Tuesday night I’m very happy to say yeah and I was thinking if I did the DNA of all the black men on the court which was everybody on the court when I got this idea if I did the DNA of all the black men on the court or all the black men in this room one in three of you descend from a white band thirty to thirty five percent of all african-american men and their Y DNA goes to Europe not to Africa because of enforced sexuality sex you know rape or and at the best and unequal power relationship because you know I found Morgan Freeman in african-american lives his white overseer impregnates black slave it’s Morgan’s great-great-grandmother so you figure it’s rape right well guess what I ended up showing him their tombstones they live together illegally in Mississippi I’m from the time of abolition of slavery to their death so they had some kind of connection so that maybe you know maybe it is possible I don’t know you know it’s complicated how can you love somebody who owns you but who am I to say but it was very complicated but in most cases it was in for sexuality at the least and rape at best here are the figures one percent of the African American people have at least fifty fifty percent European ancestry the equivalent of one parent 19.6 of the African American people have at least 25% European ancestry 58 percent of us have at least 12.5% European ancestry the equivalent one great grandparent and only five percent of the African American people have at least 12.5% Native American ancestry equivalent of one great grandparent so for those of you raise your hand I’ve identified the Native American tribe you’re from it is the Blackfoot tribe that is wearing so ladies the devil – in conclusion what we were trying to do is use the new sophisticated tools of genealogy ancestry tracing and genetics not to take our people back to the future but to take them black to the future thank you very much you