Ana Navarro’s father thought she would learn she is descended from Spanish royalty when she participated in PBS’s Finding Your Roots celebrity genealogy series, “so he’s still recovering,” she said, after learning some of her ancestors were slaved.
Writer/TV host/activist Janet Mock called it “incredibly emotional” to see a document in which one of her slave ancestors, at age 14, is listed on a ledger as being someone’s property.
Ted Danson discovered one of his great-great grandfathers was a slave owner whose “property” included Venture Smith who bought his freedom and wrote an autobiography titled “A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa: But Resident above Sixty Years in the United States of America, Related by Himself.” Show host Henry Louis Gates Jr. said was used in many African American history classes.
“I’m your basic liberal…enlightened whatever,” Danson said. Learning his ancestry connects him to a slave owner is “powerful,” he said, adding that he does not feel guilty about it but feels a certain responsibility. “Just my luck my ancestor owned a slave that wrote the tell-all book,” he joked.
That was Navarro’s cue to turn to Danson and say, “Janet and I want to know how much that responsibility feels worth. Can we at least get a glass of wine out of you?”
Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive for PBS, had kicked off PBS’s TCA days thanking TV critics for writing about Finding Your Roots during HBO’s portion of the tour.
“It was awesome. Thank you!” Hoppe beamed.
In the new Curb episode sent to critics before TCA, TV Larry participates in the celebrity genealogy program and learns he is related to doppelganger Bernie Sanders, who he played on Saturday Night Live during the election.
“They told me not to say anything,” Larry screeched at the critic who asked him about that. “You just spilled the beans!”
David said he participated in the program because he “thought it would be cool” and only then found out about Sanders being very distantly related. “I love Bernie,” David gushed.
He says he also learned he has slaveholder ancestors – a maybe reference to Ben Affleck having asked, and Gates having scandalously agreed, to have that part of his ancestry stricken from Affleck’s episode the PBS program.