Finding Your Roots focuses on the diversity of the American experience, uncovering the many ways in which our identities are forged by culture, race, and history.
Presented by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., each hour of this 10 episode series features a different pair of celebrity guests, who are bound together by an intimate, sometimes hidden, link - whether it be as old friends, through long lost relatives, or a common past. Celebrity guests include Barbara Walters, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Bacon, Robert Downey, Jr., John Legend, Cory Booker, and Martha Stewart, among others. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and his production team work closely with the country's leading genealogists (including the New England Genealogical Historical Society and Johni Cerny) as well as a host of ancestry experts around the world, to uncover lost family stories from that the guests never knew existed.
When the paper trail runs out, Gates and his research team turn to top geneticists and DNA companies such as 23 & Me to analyze each participant's DNA, digging deeper into their family trees -- sometimes even debunking family secrets. Gates shares his findings with each guest, and in many cases, travels with them behind the scenes as they process what they've learned, accompanying John Legend to a rock concert, talking to Samuel Jackson backstage at his Broadway play, joining Cory Booker as he reveals the results of his family history to his parents, and trailing Sanjay Gupta and Geoffrey Canada to memorable family reunions. Gates also reaches beyond these celebrity stories to seek out everyday individuals wrestling with similar questions of identity. He visits with barbers at his favorite barber shop in Cambridge and engages students in Harlem curious about their genetic makeup. In all, each episode is a journey through one branch of the American past leaving audiences all the more curious about their own past and eager to unearth their own family roots.