We can probably expect an interlude between the next seasons of Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots, and the duration of that lull will hinge largely on how PBS chooses to balance and accommodate the sometimes competing goals of content accuracy and viewer demand.
The event marked the completion of the Peopling of America Center, the formal post-Sandy re-opening, the bestowal of Family Heritage Awards to Diane von Furstenberg, Patti LuPone and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and the naturalization of eight new American citizens. Following are a few highlights.
A comparison between actor Ben Affleck's apology and the Baltimore unrest might seem trivial to some, but it actually speaks to why we need to embrace our complex pasts. Selectively editing our backgrounds is a symptom of a larger inability of Americans of all races to honestly assess our history.
It is estimated that nearly half of all Americans can trace their family history to at least one person who passed through the Port of New York at Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1954, when Ellis Island was operating as an immigration station more than 12 million immigrants entered its halls.
The revelation of Ben Affleck's request to Harvard Scholar Henry Louis Gates to remove mention of a slave owning relative who lived 150 years ago caused a media brouhaha, but the actor failed to mention another illustrious relative who gave his life to the Abolitionist cause in the Civil War.
Actor Ben Affleck, recently the subject of the PBS series Searching For Your Roots, a direct copy, by the way of the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are, found out that his ancestors were once slave-holders.
These may be heady questions, but now that we're 15 years into the 21st Century--yes, that's a jawdropper when you think about it--and the future has, basically, arrived, ironically, we find ourselves in the midst of another phenomena: Looking back into the past.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. hopes that his latest PBS documentary, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., will not only educate the public but also lead to reform in the nation's public school system.