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African American Lives

4.7 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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(May 02, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Renowned scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., W.E.B. DuBois professor of the Humanities and chair of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University, takes Alex Haley's Roots saga to a whole new level. Using genealogy and DNA science, Dr. Gates tells the personal stories of eight accomplished African Americans, tracing their roots through American history and back to Africa. Participants include Dr. Ben Carson, Whoopi Goldberg, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Dr. Mae Jemison, Quincy Jones, Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Chris Tucker and Oprah Winfrey. (PBS Home Video)

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Henry Louis Gates, Ben Carson, Whoopi Goldberg, T.D. Jakes, Mae C. Jemison
  • Producers: Jesse Sweet
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC, Closed-captioned
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: May 2, 2006
  • Run Time: 240 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E6EHNG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,690 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "African American Lives" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I was so pleased with this project. This is an excellent source for college professors and instructors who teach courses on race. As someone who has lived in Africa, I was moved by Chris Tucker's reaction to the reception he received by the Angolan people. The idea that we can trace our ancestry to Europe, Africa the Middle East based on our DNA is absolutely fascinating. Finally African Americans, all Americans have a lens in which to view the concept that we are more alike than we are different. Henry Louis Gates is to be commended for his foresight and scholarship.
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I saw the program on PBS and was inspired by the quality of production, variety of locations, subject matters and the huge amounts of detailed research that was displayed. What an enormous budget to produced such an epic document.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates seems to have fun mining the gold that is lying out in the fields of our African America history. Thanks for taking me along.
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I watched this on PBS during it's initial airing. Unfortunately, many friends did not. I'm purchasing this now one as a gift for a dear friend and one for myself to watch with other friends. I found it extremely interesting and educational for people of all nationalities. Whether you are African-American or any other nationality this is something to watch. The diversity on the outcome of the research done on Oprah, Q, Whoopi, Chris Tucker, & all the others done during this research was astounding and very interesting. Just to find out Penn State doing the Master File on genetic tracking. Just a swab of your saliva from your mouth and your family genes can be backtracked to the actual birthplace of your family. Just so thought-provoking on so many levels.
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A wonderful PBS program hosted by Henry Louis Gates. With the aid of historians and geneologists, Professor Gates researches his own history and that of several prominent African Americans. Each guest speaks of his or her own knowledge of their ancestors and Professor Gates fills in the gaps using census records, estate diaries, archives and DNA. Everyone is in some way surprised by what they learn concerning their lineage. Professor Gates is a gifted communicator, and the interaction between he and his guests is very interesting. I loved the segments with him and his dad and aunt. The parts regarding slavery are very moving--it's sobering to see how human beings were put on the level of oxen or cattle with some records not even listing their names. The guests appeared to be deeply touched when told of their enslaved ancestors. I would highly recommend this well made, fascinating DVD to anyone who is interested in geneology or African American issues, or really anyone.
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This video was very entertaining. It researches the family history of several prominent african amerians. It also provides a general history of blacks in slavery, Jim Crow years, the Civil War, The Middle Passage and the Great Migration. Specific information is given on how DNA can assist in geneology studies. I recommend this video for the family.
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I really enjoyed this series,and wish to congratulate PBS for again being in the vanguard by producing it. For those interested in African-American genealogy,I feel this is a must have. And even if you're not a fan of genealogy itself, the celebrities and the presentations of their 'stories' are interesting in and of themselves. Highly recommend!
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Proof that Oprah has no european DNA in her body. Many people should watch all professor Henry Gates Jr. films.
Maybe the bible is correct, " in the beginning there were 3 mankinds, the sons of god, the sons of man and the giants".

Bought this to send to my daughter.
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This documentary derives from Skip Gates's TV series Finding your Roots. The difficulty of tracing the ancestry of African Americans is the spotty record-keeping of the statuses of slaves. Such gaps are partially mitigated by DNA testing, which has made possible discovery the approximate African locations and tribal identifications of the subjects' forebears, as well as their near-universal European lineage due to the rape of female slaves by their slave masters. The resilience of both the celebrities and their ancestors, who survived unconscionable and overwhelming abuse, is moving, humbling, and inspiring.
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