VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. will help Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams learn more about his ancestors in the season-opener of Gates’ “Finding Your Roots” series Tuesday night on PBS.
Gates, the well-known Harvard historian, has unveiled the family histories of many celebrities during the show’s 6 seasons, revealing some interesting connections and hard truths. In season 4, Gates brought together newly found cousins (comedian Larry David and Senator Bernie Sanders), and shared that David’s ancestors were Confederate slave owners. Other celebrities whose ancestors owned slaves include Ben Affleck and Anderson Cooper.
Williams meanwhile said in a press conference this summer announcing Juneteenth as a state holiday in Virginia that he learned all of his ancestors were enslaved after working with Gates.
“When you look at the vastness of the night sky, and you see those stars moving up there, know that those stars are our African ancestors dancing. They’re dancing in celebration because their lives are finally being acknowledged,” Williams said about the move to recognize Juneteenth.
Expect them to go into detail in Tuesday night’s special, which is also set to feature fillmaker Kasi Lemmons.
You can watch at 8 p.m. on WHRO, Hampton Roads’ PBS channel.
After the show, the first episode of Gates’ four-part series “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This is Our Song,” premieres at 9 p.m.