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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
In Search of Our Roots -- Buy the companion book now from ShopPBS
Tom Joyner
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Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Linda Johnson Rice Don Cheadle Chris Rock Tom Joyner Peter Gomes Maya Angelou Morgan Freeman Jackie Joyner-Kersee Tina Turner Katheleen Henderson Bliss Broyard
Tom Joyner is the host of the nationally syndicated radio program The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and is heard daily by millions of listeners.

Milestones in Tom Joyner's ancestry:

  • 1790 Tom Joyner's great, great, great grandfather Tony Dumas is born in Africa, a member of the Balanta people from the country of Guinea Bissau. Tony Dumas is brought to America as a slave between 1790 and 1808 after which the importation of slaves to the United States was prohibited by Congress.

  • 1834 Obadiah Dumas, the owner of Tom Joyner's great, great, great grandparents Tony and Clara Dumas, dies in the same year that the state of Alabama passes a statute prohibiting owners from manumitting slaves in their wills. Obadiah had provided for their freedom upon his wife's death, but Tom and Clara are refused manumission and die slaves.

  • 1909 Oscar Joyner, Tom Joyner's grandfather, graduates from Meharry Medical College, one of only 3,000 black physicians in the U. S. (two percent of all doctors in the country).

  • Between 1910 and 1925, 1 in 10 African-Americans move out of the rural South to seek employment opportunities in Northern cities, an exodus called "The Great Migration."

    Unlike the majority of African-Americans during this time, Tom Joyner's maternal grandparents, Nettie Lavinia Stanback and Isaac Lafayette Dumas, go south to Alabama where he works as a farmer and she is a teacher in a mission school started by the Presbyterian Church.

  • 1913 Tom and Meeks Griffith, great-uncles of Tom Joyner, are charged with killing a white Confederate soldier named John Q. Lewis in South Carolina. Their family leaves South Carolina after the brothers and three others are found guilty by an all-white jury and electrocuted in 1915. Of the 47 people who were put to death in South Carolina between 1912 and 1920, 44 were black.

  • 1949 Tom Joyner is born in Tuskegee, Alabama, home of the Tuskegee Institute and airmen program.

  • Update: Posthumous Pardon for Tom Joyner's Uncle

    Put Tom Joyner's life and ancestry in historical context with the Interactive Historical Timeline.


    Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 and its outreach initiatives is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional corporate funding is provided by Buick.
    The Coca-Cola Company Johnson & Johnson Buick
    KUNHARDT Thirteen/WNET New York