Family Sagas of Pride and Perseverance | ‘Finding Your Roots’

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Join Detroit Public TV and PBS Books on Wednesday, March 22, at 8 p.m. ET, for a fascinating look at new techniques for unravelling the mysteries of African American genealogy

Now in its ninth season, “Finding Your Roots” stands as one of PBS and America’s most enduring and popular programs. It’s enjoyed by people from all backgrounds and ways of life. We celebrate each other’s stories, because every family’s history has much to tell us about the history of our country.

On Wednesday, March 22, Detroit Public TV and PBS Books present a special digital event, inspired by the work of “Finding Your Roots” host and creator, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who has made genealogy a national pastime.

We will present a dynamic discussion of the issues and opportunities that African Americans face as they trace their histories. There is never a straight path in genealogy, always twists and turns. But we will consider the unique challenges of these families, as they hunt through the wreckage of slavery for records that are lost or incomplete, searching for ancestors whose names and locations often have been changed or falsified.

Thankfully, there are new tools, historical and scientific, to unlock family histories. We will present a panel of avid and talented genealogists, who have mastered tricks and tips that will help others exploring their family’s origins. At the same time, they relate the surprising facts and inspiring stories they discovered about their own histories.

We even learn something about Dr. Gates himself!

Please join us on Wednesday, March 22, at 8 p.m. ET, at,, or Facebook Live.

It will be an evening of tears and triumph, DNA and dogged research perseverance, as we do our best to let the genealogy out of the bottle.


  • Leslie C. Strong Williams: Immediate Past President, Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society, Detroit, Michigan; member, Detroit Historical Society Black Historic Sites Committee; former trustee Historical Society of Michigan. A sixth generation Michiganian, born in Detroit, her interest in genealogy and the preservation of African American history harkens back to her ancestor, abolitionist and Underground Railroad Station Master William Webb. Retired museum curator and exhibitions designer.
  • Jazmyn Davison: Currently a stay-at-home mother who enjoys spending time with family and friends, Jazmyn was born and raised in Mansfield, OH, and went on to work and serve in leadership development, banking and in service to God. She finds joy in learning about her ancestors and believes it’s an important component in the journey of discovering who you are.
  • Cheryl Garnett: President and co- founder of the Washtenaw County African American Genealogical Society, board member of Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society, and board member of the Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County. To Cheryl, family is everything. She is the mother of five adult children, 17 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Fulfilling a promise to her grandmother, she has been researching and reconstructing her family history and genealogy since 1996. She retired from the Ann Arbor VA Hospital in 2015, after serving 32 years as the director of Occupational Therapy.
  • LaJoy Y. Mosby: LaJoy begin researching her family history in the late ‘70s after viewing the TV miniseries “Roots.” She currently serves as the National President of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. (AAHGS). She serves as the president of the Central Maryland Chapter of AAHGS. She is also a member of several other genealogy societies, including the National Genealogical Society, Kentucky Genealogy Society, Alabama Genealogy Society, African American Genealogy Group of Kentucky and the Woodford County (KY) Historical Society.
  • Omer Jean Winborn: Retired educator, co-founder of the Washtenaw County African American Genealogy Society; vice president of Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society, Detroit, Michigan; and board member, of the Washtenaw Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County.


Michigan Genealogical Council

Detroit Society for Geological Research


Detroit Society for Genealogical Research

Michigan eLibrary: Genealogy eResources for Kids

  • 25 Fun Things to Do with Your Friends and Family is an eBook in EBSCO’s Public Library eBook collection.  One of the activities involves interviewing grandparents to learn more about their lives.
  • Families Through Time Ebook is a book within the EBSCO K-8 eBook collection and is designed to introduce kids to the concept of family history and traditions. There are prompts within the book to help them capture some of their own family traditions.
  • My Heritage Library Edition accesses various records throughout the world to provide more information about ancestors.  This is not designed for use by younger children; however, middle and high school students could possibly use it to learn more about grandparents and great grandparents.
  • PebbleGo offers 10 different articles on families within its Social Studies module.  This eResource is designed especially for children in grades K-2.

Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings

Inspired by the popular PBS series “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” and shot on the campus of Penn State University, “Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings” follows 13 young people in a genetics and genealogy camp as they explore their family history and DNA ancestry with techniques never before used in an educational setting.

Teachers, we encourage you to download and customize the curriculum used in our Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings Genetics & Genealogy Camp! Simply fill out the form at and you will be forwarded to a Box folder where you can download the full curriculum.

Other PBS Learning Media Resources

Funding Credits

Corporate support for FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Season Nine is provided by Ancestry and Johnson & Johnson. Major support is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Support is also provided by Ford Foundation; Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Candace King Weir; and by The Inkwell Society and its members Jim and Susan Swartz; Hayward and Kathy Draper; Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein; Nicole Commissiong and Darnell Armstrong; and Anne Wojcicki.

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