Famous personalities explore their ancestry on ‘Finding Your Roots’

Today’s most compelling personalities discover the surprising stories buried within their own families in the sixth season of the critically acclaimed PBS series “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” The series airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

The sixth season of “Finding Your Roots” on PBS features 27 fascinating new guests who are game-changers in their fields, with family histories that illustrate the power and diversity of the human experience. Among them are actors Jeffrey Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Melissa McCarthy and Sterling K. Brown; groundbreaking director Jordan Peele; and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

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 that trace throughout the United States and Canada; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Germany, Poland, Ireland, Russia and more. Episode to episode, audiences will meet guests’ ancestors who were business people 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 us.

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.

“It’s part of a larger mission to inspire us all to seek out the stories of our ancestors — to see history as something that we are all a part of, that we all have a stake in — and, in realizing this, to help us arrive at a deeper understanding of what it means to be part of the human family,” Henry Louis Gates, Jr. said. “Our series strives to show how all Americans are related, despite our present divisive politics, at the most fundamental levels of all: through our families, through our immigrant experiences, whether forced or voluntary, and at the level of the genome.”

This fall, enjoy new season six episodes as well as favorites from past seasons. More new episodes will come later this season.

Jan. 7: “Homecomings”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps actor Sterling K. Brown, comedian Sasheer Zamata and musician Jon Batiste discover the unexpected places their ancestors called home, providing new insight into the people and places that made them who they are today. Watch online.

Jan. 14: “This Land is My Land”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. reveals the unexpected family trees of entertainer Queen Latifah and actor Jeffrey Wright, redefining their sense of the black experience — and challenging preconceptions about America’s past. Watch online.

Jan. 21: “Beyond the Pale”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the Jewish heritages of actor Jeff Goldblum, radio host Terry Gross and comedian Marc Maron, uncovering previously unknown stories that show each shares much more with their ancestors than a religious tradition.

Jan. 28: “Secrets & Lies”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps actors Sigourney Weaver, Justina Machado and Amy Ryan unearth surprising revelations about  their family histories, forever altering how they see themselves.

Feb. 4: “Science Pioneers”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. traces the family trees of Francis Collins, Shirley Ann Jackson and Harold Varmus — three pioneering scientists who’ve made dramatic contributions to our understanding of the world, while knowing little about their own ancestry.

 

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