This may be no surprise to you but I am not into Oprah’s celebrity at & all of the ubiquitous + & – rage about her is annoying & not always news worthy to me.
Anyway I stumbled upon an interesting article about some new projects that O is launched this week that have me intrigued. One is a new book (released today) by Henry Louis Gates Jr. titled “Finding Oprah’s Roots” which the publisher describes as:
“Finding Oprah’s Roots will not only endow readers with a new appreciation for the key contributions made by history’s unsung but also equip them with the tools to connect to pivotal figures in their own past. A roadmap through the intricacies of public documents and online databases, the book also highlights genetic testing resources that can make it possible to know one’s distant tribal roots in Africa.
For Oprah, the path back to the past was emotion-filled and profoundly illuminating, connecting the narrative of her family to the larger American narrative and “anchoring” her in a way not previously possible. For the reader, Finding Oprah’s Roots offers the possibility of an equally rewarding experience.” (I am not reading it! Sorry.)
The 2nd project is a PBS special titled “Oprah’s Roots” airing tomorrow. PBS says:
“OPRAH’S ROOTS offers many new insights into how one of the world’s most famous people emerged from an exceptional family. It includes an account of how Elmore Winfrey, Oprah’s paternal grandfather, was courageously involved in the Civil Rights movement. The program tracks down the two Civil Rights workers whom Elmore once housed and worked alongside, returning with them to Mississippi where 40 years earlier they led voter registration and desegregation efforts.
OPRAH’S ROOTS also uncovers Winfrey’s maternal great-grandmother Amanda Winters’ remarkable achievements in the field of education. The program features an interview with a surprising distant cousin of Winfrey’s, Mavis Staples, of the the renowned gospel music family, showing how their family trees intersect four generations back.
The story of Winfrey’s great-great-grandfather Constantine Winfrey, a former slave, is one of amazing success amid the difficult and dangerous years after Emancipation and Reconstruction….”
I think this special will be a great kick off to excellent Black history programs scheduled on PBS for Black History month!
I wish that I had the energy, resources & know how to research my past my great grandparents whom I know little about. I think that I will vicariously live through Oprah tomorrow as I tune in & share her journey through the past & take pride in knowing that we all come from “SOMEBODY” good bad & indifferent.
OPRAH WINFREY: Digging Up Roots
By Karu F. Daniels, AOL Black Voices
The billionaire media maven is the subject of two major projects, to debut next week, tracing her lineage in an unflinchingly revealing style; On Jan. 23, the new book ‘Finding Oprah’s Roots’ will arrive in bookstores via Crown Publishers, and on Jan. 24, ‘Oprah’s Roots’ will premiere on PBS (check local listings).
Both projects were spearheaded by prominent African American scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr (one of the founders of Black Voices). The acclaimed Harvard University professor assembled an elite team of historians and geneticists, to shed fascinating light on Winfrey’s family background and simultaneously offers a user-friendly methodology for tracing one’s own family tree through both mediums.
Last year, when the four-part ‘African American Lives’ premiered on PBS in February, the series was hailed by critics and attracted millions of viewers., who were especially drawn to the powerfully moving discussions between Gates and Winfrey, which revealed the struggles and accomplishments of her ancestors.
“Our first African American Lives series made for riveting viewing and was a life-changing experience for each of the participants, myself included,” said Gates. “Now, with an in-depth focus exclusively on my friend Oprah Winfrey, we bring to life in even greater detail the remarkably rich and always inspiring stories of her ancestors.”
The new program features a wealth of previously unseen material, including portions of Gates’ original ‘African American Lives’ interview with Winfrey and new revelations about her family history.
Winfrey, who was just named the richest woman in show business by ‘Forbes’ magazine, fully cooperated with Gates on both projects.
A major discovery includes tracing her DNA all the way back to the Kpelle people of Liberia, the tribe of her first female African ancestor sold into slavery. Other points of her history include how her great-great grandfather Constantine Winfrey, born a slave but determined to teach himself to read, and wily enough to strike a bargain with a white landowner; how her great-grandmother Amanda Bullocks, the self-educated sole female trustee of her community’s first school and how her grandfather Elmore, who defied the local sheriff-and the Ku Klux Klan-by harboring Civil Rights workers.
But all that glitters isn’t gold.
In ‘Finding…’ documents are unveiled about how a relative of Winfrey’s shot and killed his own brother over a custody battle in 1931. The tome also offers accounts of her tumultuous adolescence which included molestation, promiscuity and unexpected pregnancy. (Read More | AOL Black Voices)
Alex Haley’s Roots Mini Series ran on ABC January 23rd – 30th 1977. (did you see it then???)
One of my favorite Incognito songs is titled “Roots” from their 100º & Rising Album (1995)
Links to hit up:
See the trailer for “Oprah’s Roots“
Alex Haley’s Roots
The Anti Roots: Was AH’s Roots a Fraud?