In Loving Memory of Johni Cerny

It's with great sadness to share that Johni Cerny, our chief genealogist for Finding Your Roots, has passed away. We've worked with Johni, one of the pioneering and most highly respected genealogists in the field, since we created the PBS series, African American Lives, in 2005, in which she traced the ancestry of such well-known African Americans as Oprah Winfrey and Quincy Jones. Since then, she has researched the genealogy of almost 200 celebrities, including Meryl Streep, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Tina Turner, Congressman John Lewis, Senator John McCain, Senator Bernie Sanders, Larry David, Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, P Diddy, and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, among many others. Johni’s passion, dedication, originality and mastery of the tools of her craft have been at the heart of countless revelations for the guests in our PBS series over the last fifteen years. Her passion for genealogy began at age 19 when she sought out the story of her own roots, eventually discovering the identity of her grandmother and father. Her lifelong love of the work inspired all of us who make Finding Your Roots, and she was always grateful to the viewers who make it possible for us to tell these stories. This calling, and all of the joy she brought to it, radiated throughout our show and was a key to the fulfillment of its promise to discover personal histories that liberate us from mistruths about our differences and foster a more human connection amongst us. Thank you, Johni, for believing in our dream from the very beginning, and for doing so very much to make that dream a reality. We will miss you and we love you.


Johni Cerny, Chief Genealogist for Finding Your Roots
Johni Cerny, Chief Genealogist for Finding Your Roots



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