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Marilyn Teaff Barton
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« on: January 18, 2006, 10:10:15 PM »

PBS News? ?
Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A compelling combination of storytelling and science, AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIVES is an unprecedented four-hour series on PBS that takes Alex Haley's Roots saga to a whole new level. The series will profile some of the most accomplished African-Americans of our time, using genealogy and DNA to trace their roots down through American history and back to Africa. Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois professor of the Humanities and chair of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University, AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIVES will premiere in February 2006 on PBS. The series is a co-production of Thirteen/WNET New York and Kunhardt Productions Inc.

Dr. Gates will provide access to the day-to-day lives of several prominent African-Americans, drawing on photographs, film clips, music, and early personal records, while a team of researchers, genealogists and forensic DNA analysts will conduct investigations into their family histories. By spotlighting African-American role models, the series hopes to inspire millions to consider their own heritage, and underscore for all Americans the importance of knowing their past, in order to unlock the future.

"This is one of the most exciting projects in which I have been involved," said Dr. Gates. "No television series has explored black roots both in America and in Africa and used DNA research to investigate the origins of individual African-Americans. AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIVES will be a great way to introduce young people to the marvels of archival and scientific research and their practical applications. I hope that this project will encourage them - and all Americans, especially those of African descent - to explore their roots."

"PBS is thrilled to be working with Dr. Gates again," said Jacoba Atlas, senior vice president and co-chief programming executive for PBS. "AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIVES, following in the tradition of projects like Wonders of the African World and America Beyond the Color Line, demonstrates PBS's ongoing commitment to presenting the diverse experiences of all Americans - as well as its commitment to programs that can't be found anywhere else."

"We're incredibly excited about this project, which will be unlike anything viewers have experienced before," said Tamara E. Robinson, vice president and director of programming for Thirteen/WNET. "AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIVES will be extremely dramatic television, but with an important purpose, as viewers will join these women and men as they unearth revealing new truths about their heritage."

For some Americans, the essential question "Where do I come from?" cannot be answered; their history has been lost or stolen. But through its genealogical detective work and groundbreaking DNA analysis, AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIVES will not only provide a transformational discovery for several prominent African-Americans, but also serve as an example for all Americans of the empowerment derived from knowing their heritage.

Click here for the rest of the story.

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