Segments in this Video

The Stories We Tell: Introduction (01:45)


This segment orients viewers to the ancestral search for Ty Burrell, Kara Walker, and Donna Brazile.

Ty Burrell (02:50)

Burrell grew-up in Applegate, Oregon; his comedic roots trace back to his father who died in 1989. His high school talent show was a defining moment for Burrell. (Credits)

Kara Walker (02:48)

Walker's series of silhouettes explores the relationship between stereotypes and identity. In the 1990s, a group of artists campaigned to ban her work. Walker shares an experience with the KKK; she is anxious to learn her ancestral history.

Donna Brazile (03:14)

Brazile managed Al Gore's presidential bid, performed in "The Good Wife," and serves as a news analyst. She grew up in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. The death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. started Brazile's activism and she dedicated her life to fighting social injustice.

Burrell Family Tree (04:16)

Gates investigates a family story that suggests Burrell's great-great-grandmother was black. He finds conflicting census information about George Weeks' race and learns that of the 400,000 people living in Oregon in 1900, only 1,000 were African-American.

Burrell Family Tree: Susannah Weeks (03:17)

In 1840, freed woman Susannah Weeks lived with her mother in Tennessee. An application record from Jackson County, Oregon reveals that Weeks applied for a homestead grant and became a land owner.

Walker Family Tree (05:24)

Gates investigates a family story that suggests one of Walker's ancestors was white. He finds that James Thorpe Sr. had two families. The 1910 census suggests that Thorpe Sr. helped his African-American son start a business.

Brazile's Surname Origin (02:32)

Gates investigates the origin of Brazile's family name. He traced the name back to her great-grandmother Della Brazile whose last name was listed as Braswell in an 1870 census. Further searching revealed that the Braswells descend from Englishman Robert Bracewell.

Brazile's Maternal Family Tree (04:03)

Gates investigates the roots of Brazile's great grandmother Mariah Brown. Brown's father Daniel was a slave to Thomas Butler and assumed the surname Butler at the end of the Civil War; Brazile examines pictures of the Butler plantation. Daniel never escaped poverty and died in 1935.

Susannah Weeks' Origins (04:15)

Weeks was born in Montgomery County, North Carolina. Her mother, Nellie Mask, was a slave for the Mask family along with her mother Jane; Dudley mask fathered a child on Nellie at the age of 13.

Walker's Free Black Ancestor (04:27)

Gates learns that Walker's great-great-great grandfather Henry Fordham was a free person of color. Confederate Army pay vouchers reveal that Fordham performed services for Confederate troops.

Walker's Slave Ancestors (02:29)

Gates traced the Walker line to her great-great-grandfather David Walker; he spent the first 30 years of his life as a slave for Samuel Walker. Kara's surname is a legacy of her family's bondage.

Brazile Legend of the Slave Master (03:58)

Gates investigates the Brazile family legend that slave owner Col. Charlie Welch tried to split apart Julia Brown and her siblings. Brown was buried on a sharecropping plantation owned by V.D. Walsh. His papers revealed a bill of sale for Brown's sister Perene.

"Browns Stick Together" (03:11)

Walsh was a wealthy cotton farmer in West Feliciana Parish, LA who owned over 75 slaves. The bill of sale for Perene reveals that Walsh bought Perene from Charlie Hoffman. Another bill of sale reveals Hoffman bought Perene from an estate sale; a third bill of sale reveals G.O.G. Williams bought Julia Brown and two of her siblings.

DNA Answers (03:39)

Tests confirm that Burrell is a descendant of Dudley Mask and that James Thorpe Jr. was the son of a white man. Gates presents Burrell, Walker, and Brazile with their family trees.

Credits: The Stories We Tell: Donna Brazile, Ty Burrell, Kara Walker—Finding Your Roots, Season 3 (00:30)

Credits: The Stories We Tell: Donna Brazile, Ty Burrell, Kara Walker—Finding Your Roots, Season 3

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The Stories We Tell: Donna Brazile, Ty Burrell, Kara Walker—Finding Your Roots, Season 3

Part of the Series : Finding Your Roots, Season 3
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Discover the unsolved mysteries behind the family stories of political organizer Donna Brazile, actor Ty Burrell, and artist Kara Walker as they learn how the legacy of slavery has shaped their identities.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL129879

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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The Stories We Tell

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