finding your roots

John Legend and Wanda Sykes

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. reveals the ancestral pasts of musician John Legend and comedian Wanda Sykes. Watch the full Finding Your Roots episode. Episode credits.



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  • Barbara Conrad

    May 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Love this show!

  • tara smith

    May 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Fascinating stories! Keep up the good work!!!

  • tara smith

    May 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Connecting with ancestors helps us realize who we have become and what drives us today.

  • Sharon Reid

    May 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Wand is soooo funny! She thought her family had “dirt” on someone and that was why her family was free. Just the opposite I guess but great that the family became free because of being in Virginia which had the law that made it possible for them to be free because of their maternal ancestry. So wierd how things turn out sometimes.

  • Wanda Renee

    May 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    If you are regular citizen – will finding your roots assist with helping us discover our family history?

  • Jo Ann Buckner

    May 14, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Fabulous, powerful and inspiring stories….
    I can hardly wait for future episodes
    Endless Blessings to John Legend and Wanda Sykes, Louis Gates and all else concerned.

  • Cristy R. James

    May 15, 2012 at 12:22 am

    I love history!! I love your work Mr. Gates. Wish I could dig deeper into my roots. I have names and a few pictures but no information about their lives. I would really like to know more about my father’s side of the family because the information on that side is extremely limited. I learn so much to help me with my search.


    Cristy R. James

  • sharon miles

    May 15, 2012 at 9:43 am

    this was such an amazing story of history and it was so emotionally real…WOW!

  • Kathleen Lukas

    May 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    So, if there was more racial flexibility in 1689′s Virginia, the punishment Elizabeth Banks suffered (39 lashes on her bare back, well laid on) was more about sex outside of marriage (fornication) and not having married before the child was born (bastardy). It doesn’t sound like, legally, the race issue played into it. Amazing!

    If the rights of indentured servants were much the same as slaves, though with a limited time frame, can it be that the master of each did not allow them to marry? Did indentured servants also suffer rape from their masters, during their servitude? If so, is it possible that the master, Maj James Goodwin, thought this child would be his? Anyway you interpret it, this story is an amazing slice of history, worthy of a novel and movie.

  • May 16, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Thanks to this show I learned that I am related to Wanda Sykes! We both share Banks blood. Its not every day that your family is the topic of your favorite television program! Thank you “Finding Your Roots” for teaching me more about my ancestry!

  • Ann Mcgowan

    May 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    This was so informative to learn about your family roots. John and Wanda this goes to show you and others that no matter what obstacles we face we as people can accomplish anything. I so proud of both of you


    May 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Did anyone else notice that all the free blacks were described as mullotos. It seems the lighter you were or the more white blood you had the better you were treated.

  • May 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Truly engaging work! I LOVE the SHOW and look forward to viewing more! BRAVO to Mr. Gates and the Artists who bravely step forward to discover their ancestry! I wish to someday do the same!

  • Ansar

    May 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Most enligtning

  • Gloria

    June 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I think that Dr. Gates does wonderful work, however, what does it mean to find out that your ancestors were freed? Why is this information so important? Does it mean that Wanda And John are better than? Just asking.

  • Gera

    June 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Wow. This documentary is truly amazing! Keep it coming PBS! Thank you Mr. Gates.

  • June 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I hate this even happen ,,but i know its all a part of history,,mine is ,white & native american,,,from willits ca to nc

  • Leigh Singhisen

    July 8, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I LOVE this show!!! I hope it will be an ongoing series. Fascinating!!!

  • RP Rhoads

    July 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Wow…The more of these I watch, the more I see that slave owners DID have HEARTS!!! Not as the RE-WRITTEN History is being bandied around these days…

  • Mariko Parker

    July 26, 2012 at 2:26 am

    I just wished that they had talked about Wanda Sykes Sykes family line deeper because my oldest ancestor was named Jack Sykes who was living in Southampton County, Virginia in 1870 and was born in 1835. Surry county isn’t that far from Southampton County, but he did say that most of her ancestral lines only date back to the end of slavery.

  • Christine Hobin

    August 16, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Amazing! This is so interesting!

  • August 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    This is a MUST HAVE BLACK LEGACY! Without it we’d be a lost African American society. Please, please never quit reaching for our past, that made our future. Mr. H. Louis Gates, Jr. is exceptionally phenominal!

  • jules

    September 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Why doesn’t this video work?? I was counting on it working to write a school paper!!!!

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About the Series

The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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