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DNA Kits Provide Insight into Genetic Ancestry

With advances in DNA technology, researchers are learning more about the origins and diversity of humans, allowing companies to offer DNA test kits and analysis for people who want to learn more about their ancestry.

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  • RICK KITTLES, African Ancestry:

    Anyway, I'm going to talk about uncovering the African in African ancestry.

  • TOM BEARDEN, NewsHour Correspondent:

    Rick Kittles is a geneticist, but lately he's been more of a salesman, traveling across the United States making a pitch to African-Americans. On this night, he spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the Urban League in Columbus, Ohio.

  • RICK KITTLES:

    For decades, all through primary school, middle school, and high school, and college, I wanted to know where I was from. While we know we can claim some part of that dark continent, there's still this disconnect because we don't know exactly where in Africa, right?

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    What Kittles is selling is the chance for African-Americans to use science to find out where their ancestors came from. His company, African Ancestry, uses DNA to peer deep into the past.

    Kittles' business got a big boost earlier this year when it was included in a PBS series called "African American Lives." It featured nine prominent people being tested to see where their ancestors came from. Some people, like series host Henry Louis Gates, Jr., were surprised to find that family lore about their origins is just plain wrong.

  • AFRICAN ANCESTRY EMPLOYEE:

    The bar chart shows 50 percent European and 50 percent African.

  • HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Host:

    Does that mean I'm half-white?

  • AFRICAN ANCESTRY EMPLOYEE:

    Yes, yes, you could say that.

  • HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.:

    Fifty percent European? I never expected that.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    Kittles tells his audience that you don't need to be a rich celebrity to get the test. He says advances in technology now make DNA testing affordable for anyone.

  • AFRICAN ANCESTRY EMPLOYEE:

    There's a sample of our results package over on that table…

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