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About Finding Your Roots
For more than a decade, renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has helped to expand America’s sense of itself, stimulating a national conversation about identity with humor, wisdom, and compassion. Professor Gates has explored the ancestry of dozens of influential people from diverse backgrounds, taking millions of viewers deep into the past to reveal the connections that bind us all.
Today’s most compelling personalities discover the surprising stories buried within their own families in the seventh season of the critically acclaimed PBS series FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR. The new season will premiere on Tuesdays beginning January 19, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS.
FINDING YOUR ROOTS, Season Seven episodes will broadcast throughout Winter/Spring 2021 and will continue to feature exciting new guests who are game-changers in their fields, with family histories that illustrate the power and diversity of the human experience. Among them are actors Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Jane Lynch, Audra MacDonald, Christopher Meloni and Tony Shalhoub; acclaimed musicians Clint Black, Rosanne Cash and Pharrell Williams; groundbreaking directors Kasi Lemmons and John Waters; renowned journalists Erin Burnett and Nina Totenberg; hilarious comedians Lewis Black and Jim Gaffigan; popular late night personality Andy Cohen; and more to be announced.
In sharing their stories, FINDING YOUR ROOTS uses every tool available, from cutting-edge DNA research to old-school genealogical sleuthing, to reveal long-buried secrets. Spanning the globe, the series compiles family trees in these new episodes that trace throughout the United States and Canada; across Europe and Africa; and more. Episode to episode, audiences will meet guests’ ancestors who were businesspeople and bootleggers, war heroes and criminals, farmers and immigrants, the persecuted and the persevering under the most extraordinary circumstances. Together, the arc of each guest’s family personalizes history while emphasizing the human connections that unite everyone.
At the center of it all, guiding every discovery, is host and executive producer Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. “As we enter our 7th season on PBS, Finding Your Roots continues to illuminate the past by unlocking the histories contained in our guests’ DNA,” says Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “Building on traditional paper trail research, genetic genealogy is a powerful tool for reconnecting branches on family trees eroded by silence and time. It also underscores one of the central themes of our series — that all of us, in one way or another, descend from immigrants whose travels across space are part of the larger human story of movement either through necessity, brutal force, escape, or the search for a better life.”
Assembling the extensive family trees and family narratives alongside Dr. Gates are DNA expert
CeCe Moore (Founder, The DNA Detective and host of ABC’s THE GENETIC DETECTIVE), and new lead genealogist Nick Sheedy, who carries on the work of founding series genealogist Johni Cerny (Founder, Lineages), who unfortunately passed away in early 2020.
In conjunction with the broadcast, co-producer WETA, the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, will work with stations across the country to encourage viewers to explore and share their family histories via social media using the hashtag #FindingYourRoots on Facebook and Twitter, via Facebook.com/FindingYourRootsPBS and @HenryLouisGates, and on the series companion site, pbs.org/FindingYourRoots.
FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Season Seven is a production of McGee Media, Inkwell Media, Kunhardt Films and WETA Washington, D.C. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the writer, host, and executive producer. Dyllan McGee and Peter Kunhardt are executive producers. John F. Wilson is the executive producer in charge for WETA. Bill Gardner is the executive in charge for PBS. Sabin Streeter is the senior producer. Natalia Warchol is the series producer. Hannah Olson is the consulting producer. Deborah Clancy Porfido is the supervising producer. Kevin Burke is the producer. Robert L. Yacyshyn is the line producer. Sabin Streeter and Krista Whetstone are directors. Corporate support is provided by Ancestry and Johnson & Johnson. Support is also provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Candace King Weir, the Lloyd Carney Foundation, and by the — the Zegar Family Foundation, Demond Martin, and the Ben Horowitz Fund through the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. Major support is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.