|Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.|
(Courtesy of Peter Simon)
King, who was a child when his father abandoned the family, had always been curious but cautious about the past. “My mother had a saying, ‘Peek not at a knothole lest ye be vexed,’ he explains. “If you look too closely you might see something you don’t like.” But what Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. reveals about King’s roots is no horror story. The family name—King—as it turns out, was an alias used by his father.
Canadian Gloria Reuben’s Jamaican father was 73 at her birth. He died when she was a child, leaving few clues about his background. She had questions about their surname, wondering if it was of Jewish origin. Reuben also learns the name of one of her mother’s African-born slave ancestors.
(Courtesy of ABC/Heidi Gutman)
All three stories also touch on slavery. “Taken together,” says Gates, “these stories of Stephen, Gloria, and Courtney show us just how profoundly discovery of long-lost ancestors can reshape our identities today.”