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Arts & Culture

FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR. - Season 2: Decoding Our Past

Courtesy of ©2014 WNET/ Joseph Sinnott
Valerie Jarrett

Airs Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

From AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES (2006) through the first season of FINDING YOUR ROOTS (2012), Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has been helping people discover long-lost relatives hidden for generations within the branches of their family trees. Professor Gates utilizes a team of genealogists to reconstruct the paper trail left behind by our ancestors and the world’s leading geneticists to decode our DNA and help us travel thousands of years into the past to discover the origins of our earliest forebears.

Share Your Story

Every family has a unique genealogical journey, just waiting to be unlocked. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. asks you to share your own story!

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Courtesy of PBS
Patrick Deval, the first African-American governor of Massachusetts.
Courtesy of Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Jessica Alba speaking at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California, 26 July 2014.

Joining Gates in this new season of FINDING YOUR ROOTS will be a diverse group of guests, including Oscar winner Ben Affleck, award winning journalist Anderson Cooper, tennis great Billie Jean King, legendary author Stephen King, multi-platinum selling rapper Nas, and many more. With these guests and others, Gates continues his quest to understand our collective American identity, bringing to life the family histories of African American, Asian, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Latin American guests alike.

Over 10 episodes (Tuesdays, September 23 - November 26, 2014), the series will reveal rich family stories, tracing back to the subjects’ ancestors arrival on America’s shores, and beyond: deep into the history of their countries of origin. Each hour will highlight three guests bound together by an intimate, sometimes hidden link, as Gates treks through layers of ancestral history, uncovers secrets and surprises of their family trees and shares life-altering discoveries.

Episode Ten: "Decoding Our Past" airs Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. - Deval Patrick is the first African-American governor of Massachusetts and Jessica Alba is an actress who proudly embraces her Mexican-American heritage. But cutting-edge DNA analysis reveals that the family trees contain a far more diverse range of cultures and races. Alba descends from Jewish and Mayan ancestors and the official cartographer of France’s King Louis XIV. Deval Patrick’s roots lead to a black homesteader in Colorado and a white master who gave his former slave land after the Civil War.

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DNA is used to delve deeper into the families of other guests in the series, including Valerie Jarrett and Anderson Cooper, and to overcome dead ends on host Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s own tree. The secrets encoded in their genomes challenge these guests’ ideas about their families’ histories and their identities today.

Past episodes are available for online viewing. FINDING YOUR ROOTS is on Facebook, and you can follow @HenryLouisGates on Twitter.

Jessica Alba's Mexican Roots

"Jessica Alba

Unlocking Deval Patrick's Past with Autosomal DNA

"Genealogy expert CeCe Moore uses Autosomal DNA analysis to trace Gov. Deval Patrick's family history

Decoding Our Past Through DNA Promo

"Deval Patrick is the first African American Governor of Massachusetts

Share Your Story Prompt

"Henry Louis Gates