Little did Questlove know that his appearance on Finding Your Roots would become an important part of Angela Abar’s (Regina King) journey in HBO’s Watchmen.
If you’ve been following the series, you know that the mysterious character Will (Louis Gossett Jr.) told Angela he’s there to help her understand who she is. While there could be many meanings to the statement, we know that Angela finds out she is Will’s granddaughter. And, as we learned in the first episode, Will is one of the survivors of the Black Wall Street massacre.
Damon Lindelof shared on the official Watchmen podcast how Questlove’s appearance on the genealogy show hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. inspired him when creating the story for Watchmen.
Lindelof said that when he was watching Questlove’s episode, in which the musician found out his ancestors arrived in America on the last ship to carry slaves, he resonated with Questlove’s statement of “Until an hour ago, I didn’t know who I was.” Lindelof’s Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors survived World War II, and the feelings Lindelof had about their survival allowed him to identify with Questlove.
“That’s not something that I could really relate to, as a white person, as it pertains to the last 400 years of history in America that was visited upon people who were brought here to this country and enslaved, and all the treasure of this country was basically born upon their backs,” he said on the podcast.
“That said, I understand the idea of knowing who I am based on understanding the trials and tribulations and trauma visited upon my grandparents,” he continued. “So, hearing that my grandparents just got out of Russia right before they would’ve been shipped off to concentration camps actually creates an emotional reaction in me, and suddenly I feel like that’s a piece of the puzzle of who I am, even though this person died 20 years before I was born. Suddenly, I was like that feels very Watchmen to me.”
Interestingly enough, Gates is also a minor character in Watchmen, playing the U.S. Secretary of Treasure. The Finding Your Roots–Watchmen connection comes full circle.
Photo credit: PBS/HBO
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