Cumberland Times-News


January 25, 2008

Harvard professor to discuss ‘African American Lives 2’

Gates returns as series host and co-executive producer

BALTIMORE — Internationally known scholar and Piedmont, W.Va., native Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. will participate via conference call on Friday at 1 p.m. to talk about “African American Lives 2,” which will air Wednesdays, Feb. 6 and 13, from 9 to 11 p.m. on PBS.

Building on the widespread acclaim of “African American Lives: (2006) and “Oprah’s Roots” (2007), the four-part series “African American Lives 2” journeys deep into ancestry of an all new group of remarkable individuals, offering an in-depth look at the African-American experience and race relations throughout U.S. history.

Gates returns as series host and co-executive producer, guiding genealogical investigations down through the 20th century, Reconstruction, slavery and early U.S. history, and presenting cutting-edge genetic analysis that locates participants’ ancestors in Africa, Europe and America. Joining Gates in the new broadcast are poet Maya Angelou, author Bliss Broyard, actor Don Cheadle, actor Morgan Freeman, theologian Peter Gomes, publisher Linda Johnson Rice, athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, radio personality Tom Joyner, comedian Chris Rock, music legend Tina Turner, and college administrator Kathleen Henderson, selected from more than 2,000 applicants to have her family history researched and DNA tested along with that of Gates and the series’ other 10 participants.

“These stories of adversity, sacrifice, achievement and empowerment transcend the realm of color with a universal resonance,” said Gates. “These discoveries about our ancestors are fascinating stories that everyone, regardless of race, can identify with and draw inspiration from,” added Gates, Alphonse Fletcher University professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. “They're stories that together offer a new understanding of not only the African-American experience, but also of race in America.”

“Through even greater depth of research and more powerful storytelling, all of the stories in ‘African American Lives 2’ share a common thread — they show the value of knowing who you are and where you come from,” Gates said. “And now, the inclusion of Kathleen’s story shows that viewers everywhere can take this same journey.”

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