100 Amazing Facts About the Negro No. 18: How much African ancestry does the average African American have?
A few years ago, it occurred to me that it might be fun to try to trace the family trees of a group of African Americans all the way back to slavery, and then when the paper trail disappeared, analyze their DNA through biologist Rick Kittles’ company, African Ancestry.com. The payoff would be to reveal the ethnic group from which their maternal or paternal slave ancestors descended back in Africa. We would trace their family trees using the massive number of records now digitized by websites such as Ancestry.com, and supplement the paper trail using new tools of genetic science to find more distant details about each person’s ancestry. My goal was to create a contemporary version of the television series Roots — think of it as Roots in a test tube, Roots for the 21st century.