In the exclusive clip below, Gates shows Lemon some of the members of his family tree in records dating from the 1800s. The records show several of his family members who were still enslaved and marked as property after the death of the plantation's mistress. The names, plus their noted monetary worth at the time, elicit a strong, somber reaction in Lemon.
Finding Your Roots is currently in its seventh season and features the histories of Glenn Close, Kasi Lemons, Andy Cohen, John Lithgow, Tony Shalhoub, Audra MacDonald, Pharrell Williams, Rosanne Cash, Clint Black, John Waters, Lewis Black, Nina Totenberg, Jim Gaffigan, Gretchen Carlson, Christopher Meloni and Jane Lynch.
As the series' description states, the series uses state-of-the-art genealogical tools to decipher the past and give present-day descendants a look at the people who paved the way for them to survive.
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,” said Gates in a prior statement. “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.”
Finding Your Roots airs Tuesdyas at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on PBS.