Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the 12th and latest series from the renowned cultural critic and Harvard scholar. In this 10-part series, Professor Gates continues the quest he begun in African American Lives 1 and 2 and Faces of America delving into the genealogy and genetics of an all new group of famous Americans. The series combines history and science in a fascinating exploration of race, family, and identity in today’s America. Each hour features a different pair of celebrity guests, who are bound together by an intimate, sometimes hidden link, whether it be as old friends, through long-lost relatives, or even through a common ancestral past.
Season 2 – Episode 5
Chef Tom Colicchio learns the hardships his family endured in Northern Italy; chef Ming Tsai traces his roots back 2,000 years; chef Aarón Sánchez learns his Mexican roots include Spaniards, Africans and Native Americans.
The episode was rated from 21 votes.
#2 – Barbara Walters – Geoffrey Canada
Season 1 – Episode 3
What’s in a name? Well, a lot, at least when it comes to piecing together your family history. For former slaves, choosing a last name was one of their first acts of freedom. For Jewish immigrants, it was a way to fit in their new country. Whatever the reason for a name change, it can make the process of learning about one’s ancestors difficult, if not impossible. In this episode, we unearth missing links in the family histories of media legend Barbara Walters and educational superstar Geoffrey Canada. Walters did not know her father’s real last name. Canada did not know the name of his grandfather. Both of them had been unable to access their history… until now.
The episode was rated from 22 votes.
#3 – Family Reunions
Season 3 – Episode 7
Uncover family mysteries about two legends of hip hop, Sean Combs and LL Cool J, through the use of DNA technology that reveals information that shakes their very foundations.
The episode was rated from 30 votes.
#4 – Maps of Stars
Season 3 – Episode 10
Learn how Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow, who last shared the screen together in 1969, also share a history of tragic deaths in their families that played major roles in shaping future generations.
The episode was rated from 34 votes.
#5 – The Stories We Tell
Season 3 – Episode 1
The Season 3 premiere features Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, actor Ty Burrell and artist Kara Walker, who learn how the legacy of slavery has helped shape them.
The episode was rated from 30 votes.
#6 – Hollywood Royalty
Season 6 – Episode 1
Guests: Isabella Rossellini, Anjelica Huston, Mia Farrow. Three actors born into Hollywood royalty discover branches of their family trees that have been hidden from the public eye–and meet a cast of characters every bit as dramatic as the people they themselves have played on camera.
The episode was rated from 7 votes.
#7 – Mayor Cory Booker – Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)
Season 1 – Episode 2
In this episode, we feature two African American politicians from different generations and opposite backgrounds. John Lewis grew up in a sharecropping family in rural Georgia, while Cory Booker was raised in an affluent, all-white New Jersey suburb. Although both men have devoted their lives to the betterment of African-American people, neither of them knows much about their own ancestors. In this episode, we introduce Booker to his white great-grandfather, a man he never knew, and move Lewis to tears over the extraordinary ambitions and accomplishments of his slave ancestors..
The episode was rated from 24 votes.
#8 – Freedom Tales
Season 5 – Episode 5
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. delves deep into the roots of two African-American guests, actor S. Epatha Merkerson and athlete and television personality Michael Strahan. Both discover unexpected stories that challenge assumptions about black history.
The episode was rated from 16 votes.
#9 – Our American Storytellers
Season 2 – Episode 3
Ken Burns learns that his Southern ancestors include Confederate soldiers and a slave owner; Anderson Cooper learns that an ancestor on his father’s side was killed by one of his slaves; and Anna Deavere Smith learns about her great-grandfather, who was a free black man and former conductor on the Underground Railroad.
The episode was rated from 25 votes.
#10 – Grandparents and Other Strangers
Season 5 – Episode 1
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps actor/comedian Andy Samberg and author George R. R. Martin answer some family mysteries.
The episode was rated from 14 votes.