Segments in this Video

In Search of Freedom: Introduction (02:16)


This segment orients viewers to the ancestral search for Shonda Rhimes, Maya Rudolph, and Keenen Ivory Wayans.

Maya Rudolph (03:42)

Rudolph's mother, Minny Riperton, died of breast cancer in 1979 and Rudolph became aware of her mixed heritage; she used comedy to fit in. Rudolph knows little about her heritage. (Credits)

Shonda Rhimes (03:10)

Rhimes casts lead actors of different ethnic backgrounds. She grew up in University Park, Illinois with her parents and five siblings, attended Dartmouth and USC Film School, and began working in Hollywood. Rhimes has questions about her ancestors.

Keenen Ivory Wayans (03:51)

Wayans launched "In Living Color" in 1990; he credits family with driving his success. Wayans, the second of 10 children, grew up in a poor neighborhood. He recalls being called derogatory names.

Rudolph's Jewish Family Tree (06:01)

Richard James Rudolph grew up in Pittsburgh. Judel Rudashevsky arrived in New York in 1902 and later changed his name to Julius Rudolph; he was born in Vilna, Russia. Julius helped found Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh. Lithuanian archives revealed information about several generations of ancestors.

Rhimes Family Tree (04:16)

Ilee Rhimes Jr. was born in Arkansas in 1942 and moved with his mother, Mabel Love, to Chicago in 1949. A 1910 census reveals James and Rosalie Love lived in Mississippi; they snuck out of the county and acquired land in 1918.

Wayans Family Tree (05:30)

Elvira Green grew up in Harlem. Her father, Ivory Garrett Green, had roots in Clarendon County, S.C. Francis E. Martin owned Wayans' great-great grandfather Marion Brock and Brock's mother Millie Martin. A deed reveals Brock bought 105 acres in 1872 and 95 acres in 1882.

Rudolph's African-American Family Tree (03:45)

Rudolph's great grandparents George Riperton and Molly Grigsby married in Kentucky in 1897. Her third great-grandparents, John and Lucinda Meaux were born into slavery. Their owner freed his slaves and left them his belongings upon his death but Meaux had to take the family to court.

Rudolph's Grigsby Family Line (03:46)

Gates traced the line back to Manuel Grigsby and Mary Thurman who were born into slavery in Lincoln County, Kentucky. An 1860 slave census reveals their owner as John Warren Grigsby.

Rhimes' Love Family Line (04:41)

A 1900 census cites James Love living with Anna Watson and Burrell Love; Watson and Burrell were slaves. An 1870 census lists Matilda (age 55) and Annie (age 17) Watson. Slave schedules cite Aca and Rufus Watson.

Wayans' Brown Family Line (05:55)

Wayans' third great-grandfather Ben Pleasant was born into slavery. South Carolina Governor John Manning owned 600 slaves, including Pleasant, and two plantations. Abolitionists kidnapped Pleasant while he was in Canada but he willingly returned to Manning.

DNA Answers (05:14)

DNA analysis reveals information about the origin of African ancestors for Rhimes. Rudolph's family story of Native American ancestry is false but she has roots in Madagascar. Wayans' paternal haplogroup is from Asia.

Credits: In Search of Freedom: Shonda Rhimes, Maya Rudolph, Keenen Ivory Wayans—Finding Your Roots, Season 3 (00:31)

Credits: In Search of Freedom: Shonda Rhimes, Maya Rudolph, Keenen Ivory Wayans—Finding Your Roots, Season 3

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In Search of Freedom: Shonda Rhimes, Maya Rudolph, Keenen Ivory Wayans—Finding Your Roots, Season 3

Part of the Series : Finding Your Roots, Season 3
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Learn how the ancestors of Maya Rudolph, Shonda Rhimes and Keenen Ivory Wayans struggled for freedom, and how each of these cultural trailblazers gains a new understanding of how they fit into this proud trajectory.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL129881

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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In Search of Freedom

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