Monday, October 27, 2014

Nas, Angela Bassett, and Valerie Jarrett on "Finding Your Roots"

Angela Basssett hears about her ancestors on "Finding Your Roots"
(Courtesy of Chris Frawley)      
Hip-hop artist Nas, actress Angela Bassett, and presidential senior advisor Valerie Jarrett are featured on “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates,” airing Oct. 28 on PBS (8-9 ET). The common thread of this episode, “We Come from People,” is that all three descend from North Carolina slaves.
      New York-born Nas learns that his mother’s ancestors, the Littles, lived in the Richmond County, North Carolina, area for generations. Dr. Gates uncovers what he called “a staggering five generations of male and female Littles marrying spouses also named Little. . . and almost all of them coming from the same town.” Through Y-DNA testing Nas makes a surprising discovery about the origin of his direct paternal line.
      Angela Bassett, whose North Carolina ancestors lived in Edgecombe County, learned that her great-grandfather, a minister named William Henry Bassett, was separated from his parents in childhood when he was sold to the Bassetts. He would take the surname of his second owners following his freedom.
      Valerie Jarrett’s great-grandfather, the first black graduate of MIT, had roots in the Tar Heel State’s Cumberland and Bladen counties. A great-great-grandfather, who was one of the first blacks to serve in the Louisiana House of Representatives, descended from a half-French slave who was freed by his slave owner-father nearly a century before the Civil War. Jarrett, upon learning of her African-Scottish-French-Native American ancestry, said, “I’m very proud of the diversity of my history. . .That’s what this country is all about.”

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