In this video from Faces of America, historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. discusses the difficult process of documenting family history and tracing linage back through the maternal and paternal lines, especially for African Americans. Gates examines his own family history—both what he knows about his great-great grandmother Jane Gates, who was a slave, and his great-great grandfather, a free white man who he knows nothing about. Gates then meets with poet Elizabeth Alexander and speaks with her about her ancestral lineage and her ties to British royalty.
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