John Legend’s Unique Family History

Each family story is unique, and each of these stories contributes to our greater understanding of humanity. Finding these stories and sharing them with my guests is the most rewarding aspect of making these documentary series. This is particularly true when I can share rare stories with my African American guests. Two such stories were […]

Condoleezza Rice and the Complexities of Race

Last summer, in August 2010, I gave a presentation on genealogy and genetics to the board of directors of the Aspen Institute at our annual board meeting. After showing a clip from our previous PBS series, Faces of America, I talked about the recent American fascination with finding one’s roots. So many generations of Americans […]

DNA and Deep Family Mysteries

For some, these deeper family mysteries take on an additional dimension that goes far beyond curiosity — knowing who that great-great-grandfather was would fill in a critical gap in their understanding of who they are.

“Is Jazz a Black Thing?”

“Is jazz a black thing?” That seemed to be the animating question going into our interviews in New Orleans with musicians Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr.

Interviewing Congressman John Lewis

If you think it’s tricky to find the perfect time to schedule an interview with a celebrity (in between shooting a movie or a TV show, attending premiere parties, making the rounds on talk shows, and hosting fundraising galas for their favorite good cause) think about how much harder it is to settle on a […]