Segments in this Video

Intro to Decoding Our Past (02:14)


Henry Louis Gates Jr. orients viewers to the upcoming program about race and identity.

Jessica Alba's Ancestry Results (02:19)

Gates discovered that more than half of his ancestors were not black. He asks participants how they identify. Alba views herself as a Mexican American.

Story of Daniel Martinez (03:09)

Alba and her father talk about their tight knit Mexican family. Her grandfather worked as a migrant farmer and opened a school.

Patrick's Family History (04:23)

Gates visits Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, the state's first African American governor. He remembers the day his father left.

Politics of Identity (02:32)

Guests are often surprised to learn about their genetic makeup. Why does American society insist on labeling its citizens as belonging to a single race?

Gates Identifies White Ancestors (03:02)

Race is a relativity new concept. Gates meets with a genetic genealogist to research his European ancestors.

Genetic Results of Slave Rape (01:16)

It is not uncommon for African Americans to be descended from a white ancestor.

Governor Patrick's Genetic Roots (05:03)

DNA reveals that more than a third of Patrick's ancestors were white. Race relations were complicated in his family history. An autosomal DNA test reveals that he is a descendent of a slave owner.

Blurred Race Lines (01:24)

A Harvard geneticist talks about the overlap between races.

Wilmore Mail Family History (03:19)

Gates identifies a white ancestor. Mail publicly declared his mixed race marriage.

Mestizo (01:41)

Alba learns about the Mexican American side of her family. A DNA analysis reveals her ancestors were Native Americans.

Researching Native Ancestry (02:54)

Most guests are surprised to learn they have no Native American ancestry.

Alba's Native Ancestry (02:39)

A team compiled the largest Mexican genetic data base ever assembled to study indigenous groups.

Mitochondrial DNA (03:04)

A closer look at Alba's DNA reveals her father has a small amount of Jewish ancestry. Carmen Carillo's family had an interesting history.

Unique Genetic Patterns (01:22)

Several guest learn of their Jewish ancestry.

Patrick's Paternal and Maternal Ancestry (02:03)

Patrick's paternal genetic lines lead to Europe. His mother's family grew up in Jim Crow south. His mitochondrial DNA leads back to Africa.

Tracing Specific African Regions (02:24)

Patrick and other guests learn the origins of their African ancestry.

Philippi and Chest Nut Ridge Settlements (04:44)

Gates returns to West Virginia to learn more about how his mixed race family ancestors navigated life in the south.

American Blood (02:15)

Guests talks about what their ancestry means to them.

Credits: Decoding Our Past (00:31)

Credits: Decoding Our Past

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Decoding Our Past

Part of the Series : Finding Your Roots, Season 2
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Deval Patrick is the first African American Governor of Massachusetts, and Jessica Alba is an actress who proudly embraces her Mexican American heritage. But cutting edge DNA analysis reveals that their family trees in fact contain a far more diverse range of cultures and races. Jessica Alba descends from, Jewish ancestors, Mayans and the official cartographer of France’s King Louis the 14th. Deval Patrick’s roots lead to a black homesteader in Colorado and a white master who gave his former slave land after the Civil War. We also use DNA to delve deeper into the families of other guests from the series including Valerie Jarrett, Anderson Cooper and to overcome dead ends on host Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s own tree. The secrets encoded in their genomes challenge these guests’ ideas about their families’ histories and their identities today.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL93462

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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