Finding Your Roots

S7 E6 | FULL EPISODE

Country Roots

Henry Louis Gates Jr. uncovers the remarkably diverse backgrounds of country music icons Clint Black and Rosanne Cash.

AIRED: February 23, 2021 | 0:52:11
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

GATES: I'M HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.

WELCOME TO "FINDING YOUR ROOTS".

IN THIS EPISODE, WE'LL MEET COUNTRY MUSIC STARS

CLINT BLACK AND ROSANNE CASH.

EACH WILL BE CONFRONTED BY SECRETS THAT HAVE BEEN

CONCEALED WITHIN THEIR FAMILY TREES FOR GENERATIONS...

CASH: I DIDN'T KNOW THESE PEOPLE EXISTED.

I KNEW SOMEBODY MUST HAVE EXISTED,

BUT I REALLY DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THEM.

BLACK: I'VE JOKED WITH FRIENDS ABOUT WHAT KIND OF RASCALS

WE'D FIND IN MY ANCESTRY,

BUT YOU STILL WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO PEOPLE

WHO HAVE DONE GOOD.

GATES: TO UNCOVER THEIR ROOTS,

WE'VE USED EVERY TOOL AVAILABLE.

GENEALOGISTS COMBED THROUGH THE PAPER TRAIL THEIR

ANCESTORS LEFT BEHIND, WHILE DNA EXPERTS UTILIZED THE

LATEST ADVANCES IN GENETIC ANALYSIS TO REVEAL SECRETS

HUNDREDS OF YEARS OLD...

AND WE'VE COMPILED EVERYTHING INTO A BOOK OF LIFE.

CASH: WOW!

GATES: A RECORD OF ALL OUR DISCOVERIES.

CASH: HOW DID YOU FIND A PICTURE OF THIS?

GATES: THAT'S WHAT WE DO. CASH: THAT'S WHAT YOU DO.

WOW.

BLACK: THAT'S THE BEST NEWS I'VE HEARD ALL DAY.

GATES: AND A WINDOW ONTO THE HIDDEN PAST...

CASH: SO HE WAS HALF BLACK, HALF WHITE.

GATES: HE WAS MIXED RACE.

BLACK: I KNOW WE'VE BEEN A GREAT BIG MELTING POT AND

I DON'T MIND BEING MELTED.

GATES: MY TWO GUESTS HAVE SPENT DECADES IN THE LIMELIGHT,

GIVING NEW VOICE TO ONE OF AMERICA'S MOST SUBLIME

MUSICAL TRADITIONS...

HELPING TO DEFINE THE WAY WE SEE OURSELVES AND OUR HISTORY.

IN THIS EPISODE, WE'RE GOING TO MEET ANCESTORS WHO

WILL COMPEL THEM TO RETHINK THAT HISTORY...

REVEALING THAT THEIR FAMILIES ARE FAR MORE COMPLICATED AND

FAR MORE DIVERSE THAN THEY EVER IMAGINED.

(THEME MUSIC PLAYS).

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

GATES: CLINT BLACK IS A MAVERICK...

BENEATH HIS SIGNATURE COWBOY HAT AND EASY CHARM LIES AN

UNCOMPROMISING ARTIST.

A COUNTRY MUSIC STAR WHO PLAYS HIS OWN SONGS.

♪ BLACK: I'VE TRIED LIVING RISKY ♪♪

GATES: HONORING THE TRADITIONS OF HIS GENRE,

EVEN AS HE REINVENTS THEM.

BUT CLINT'S SUCCESS CAME NEITHER QUICKLY, NOR EASILY...

EVEN HIS OWN FATHER WASN'T SURE THAT CLINT WAS UP TO THE

STANDARDS OF COUNTRY MUSIC'S GLORIOUS PAST...

BLACK: MY DAD DIDN'T REALLY BELIEVE IN ME AS A SONGWRITER

BECAUSE HE'S HEARING THESE SONGS ON THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR

WITHOUT A STEEL GUITAR AND FIDDLE AND TO HIM IT'S

ELEVATOR MUSIC AND DON'T BOTHER.

AND HE WAS GIVING ME THESE 45 RECORDS AND HE GAVE ME

"FOUR IN THE MORNING" BY WEBB PIERCE AND SAID,

"HERE'S A SONG YOUR GENERATION PROBABLY WON'T KNOW

AND IT'LL SEEM NEW TO THEM."

AND IT HIT ME THAT I DIDN'T WANT THAT.

I WANTED TO WRITE MY OWN SONGS AND I TOLD HIM THAT.

AND THAT WAS ABSURD TO HIM.

GATES: BOY, YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT.

BLACK: AND HE LET ME KNOW.

HE SAID, "YOU JUST HAVEN'T DONE ENOUGH LIVING TO WRITE

REAL COUNTRY SONGS."

I WAS TWENTY-TWO AT THE TIME AND FORTUNATELY

HE DIDN'T KNOW EXACTLY HOW MUCH LIVING I HAD DONE.

GATES: AS CLINT SET OUT TO PROVE HIS FATHER WRONG,

HE CONFRONTED A SET OF DAUNTING OBSTACLES.

AFTER DROPPING OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL,

HE STARTED WORKING CONSTRUCTION;

PLAYING GIGS AT NIGHT IN BARS AND CLUBS AROUND

HIS TEXAS HOMETOWN...

HE WAS STRUGGLING JUST TO MAKE ENDS MEET AND IT DIDN'T

HELP THAT HIS FATHER REMAINED SKEPTICAL...

BLACK: MY DAD USED TO ENCOURAGE ME TO LEARN HOW

TO DO SOMETHING ELSE JUST IN CASE AND HE'D SAY.

WELL, AIR CONDITIONING IS ALWAYS IN GREAT NEED

HERE IN HOUSTON.

SO YOU LEARN TO REPAIR THOSE.

GATES: HE DID IT OUT OF LOVE.

BLACK: YEAH. HAVE SOMETHING TO FALL BACK ON,

AND MY ATTITUDE WAS I DON'T WANT TO HAVE SOMETHING

TO FALL BACK ON.

THIS HAS TO WORK.

GATES: CLINT'S ATTITUDE MAY HAVE SEEMED FOOLHARDY,

BUT IT WOULD PAY OFF IN A VERY BIG WAY.

IN 1989, HE RELEASED HIS FIRST ALBUM,

"KILLING TIME" WHICH GARNERED FOUR NUMBER ONE HITS

AND LAUNCHED HIS CAREER.

SINCE THEN, CLINT'S SOLD OVER

20 MILLION RECORDS WORLDWIDE...

HE'S WON A GRAMMY AND SIX COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS...

ALONG THE WAY, HE ALSO MADE A BELIEVER OUT OF HIS FATHER...

BLACK: HE PROBABLY RESTED HIS WORRIES ABOUT COUNTRY

MUSIC BECAUSE HE COULD SEE I WAS DOING THE WORK HE HAD

HOPED I WOULD.

GATES: CLASSIC COUNTRY.

BLACK: YEAH AND WE WOULD HAVE DEBATES ABOUT

WHAT WAS MORE TRADITIONAL,

WHAT WAS LESS TRADITIONAL.

I REMEMBER AT ONE POINT ASKING HIM, YOU KNOW,

"WHY DO YOU HAVE TO SHARE THESE THINGS WITH ME?"

I'D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU LIKE.

I KNOW YOU'RE NOT GOING TO LIKE EVERYTHING.

SO, AND HE TOLD ME THAT HE FELT LIKE PROBABLY ALL I

HEARD WAS FLATTERY.

I TOLD HIM, NO, THAT'S NOT ALL I HEAR.

AFTER THAT, HE REALLY SOFTENED AND I HEARD ONLY WHAT

HE LIKED AND THAT WAS NICE.

IT WAS NICE TO HAVE THAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP.

I DID HEAR FROM CRITICS PLENTY IN MY BUSINESS.

YOU KNOW WE DO.

GATES: SURE, SURE.

BLACK: AND IT WAS NICE TO START HEARING MORE ABOUT

WHAT HE LIKED...

GATES: RIGHT.

BLACK: AND LESS ABOUT WHAT HE DIDN'T LIKE.

GATES: LIKE CLINT, ROSANNE CASH'S FATHER WAS STEEPED IN

THE CONVENTIONS OF COUNTRY MUSIC.

IN FACT, HE ACTUALLY DEFINED MANY OF THOSE

CONVENTIONS HIMSELF...

ROSANNE IS THE ELDEST DAUGHTER OF THE LEGENDARY JOHNNY CASH,

ONE OF THE MOST COMPELLING VOICES IN THE HISTORY OF

AMERICAN MUSIC...

♪ CASH: BECAUSE YOU'RE MINE, I WALK THE LINE ♪♪

GATES: AND A LARGER-THAN-LIFE CHARACTER,

BOTH ON AND OFF STAGE.

CASH: ROSIE, WILL YOU SING IT WITH ME JUST THIS ONE TIME?

♪ BOTH: THEN ONE DAY HE WAS GONE... ♪♪

GATES: THOUGH ROSANNE FOLLOWED IN HER FATHER'S FOOTSTEPS,

IT WASN'T ALWAYS A SMOOTH JOURNEY...

CASH: HE WAS A DEVOTED FATHER.

HE DEEPLY LOVED US AND WE ALWAYS KNEW THAT.

AND I LOVED HIM AND ADMIRED HIM AND WAS PROUD OF HIM.

AT THE SAME TIME, IT WAS COMPLICATED BY MY MOTHER'S

FEARS ABOUT FAME.

SHE WAS A VERY PRIVATE PERSON AND IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR HER.

THEN WHEN MY DAD STARTED DABBLING IN DRUGS AND WAS ON

THE ROAD ALL THE TIME IT BECAME REALLY HARD FOR HER.

THEN THEREFORE HARD FOR THE CHILDREN.

GATES: ROSANNE'S PARENTS DIVORCED WHEN SHE WAS TWELVE

YEARS OLD AFTER A TEMPESTUOUS MARRIAGE AND ROSANNE TOLD ME

THAT AS A YOUNG WOMAN, HER MAIN AMBITION WAS SIMPLY

TO "GET OUT OF HER HOUSE."

BUT AFTER HIGH SCHOOL,

SHE SPENT TWO YEARS TOURING WITH HER FATHER;

STARTING OUT AS A WARDROBE ASSISTANT...

BUT ENDING UP AS A BACKGROUND SINGER,

WITH A NEW OUTLOOK.

CASH: IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST PROFOUND EXPERIENCES

I'VE EVER HAD.

NUMBER ONE, I GOT TO REALLY SOCK IN SOME TIME WITH MY DAD,

WHICH I HAD BEEN MISSING.

GATES: RIGHT.

CASH: ALSO, CARL PERKINS AND THE CARTER FAMILY WERE

ON THAT TOUR.

SO I SPENT TIME IN THE DRESSING ROOM WITH THEM AND

THE CARTER WOMEN TAUGHT ME ALL OF THOSE

APPALACHIAN BALLADS...

GATES: OH, REALLY?

CASH: AND THAT WAS LIFE CHANGING.

GATES: BOY, THAT'S LIKE GETTING A PHD IN MUSIC.

CASH: ABSOLUTELY.

GATES: ROSANNE WOULD SOON BE WRITING AND

PERFORMING HER OWN SONGS,

BLENDING WHAT SHE'D LEARNED BACKSTAGE WITH AN

ECLECTIC MIX OF INFLUENCES.

MAN: ROSANNE CASH, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN AND

HERE SHE COMES.

GATES: THE RESULTS WOULD PROVE SPECTACULAR.

♪ CASH: YOU DON'T WANT NO MORE HEARTACHES AND I DON'T ♪

♪ WANT NO TEAR DROPS. ♪

♪ AND WHAT ELSE IS LEFT TO TALK ABOUT? ♪♪

GATES: ALL TOLD, AFTER FIFTEEN ALBUMS,

SHE'S WON FOUR GRAMMYS AND HAD ELEVEN NUMBER ONE HITS

ON THE COUNTRY CHARTS...

AND NOW, HAVING STEPPED OUT OF HIS SHADOW,

ROSANNE IS ABLE TO APPRECIATE ALL THE MORE DEEPLY

JUST HOW HER FATHER LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR HER SUCCESS.

CASH: EVEN INTO MY TWENTIES I THOUGHT THIS IS

TOO MUCH OF A BURDEN.

I DON'T WANT THE ASSOCIATIONS.

I DON'T WANT PEOPLE LOOKING THROUGH ME TO SEE MY DAD,

WHICH WAS WHAT I FELT A LOT OF TIME.

HOW CAN I FIND HER DAD IN HER?

GET RID OF HER.

BUT THEN I GREW TO REALIZE THAT I HAVE A BEAUTIFUL AND

DEEP LEGACY AND TO SEPARATE MYSELF FROM MY FAMILY IS TO

SEPARATE MYSELF FROM MYSELF.

GATES: MY TWO GUESTS ARE COUNTRY MUSIC ROYALTY,

TIED BY THEIR TALENT AND THEIR FAMILIES TO A QUINTESSENTIALLY

AMERICAN ART FORM.

YET, LIKE ALMOST ALL OF US, THEIR ROOTS LIE FAR FROM THESE

SHORES AND ARE COMPRISED OF ANCESTORS WHO DIDN'T BEGIN

THEIR LIVES AS QUINTESSENTIAL AMERICANS.

IT WAS TIME TO MEET THOSE ANCESTORS.

I STARTED WITH ROSANNE AND DISCOVERED THAT

SHE WAS ACTUALLY A LITTLE AHEAD OF ME...

IT TURNS OUT THAT HER FATHER WAS A GENEALOGY BUFF AND HAD

TRACED HIS CASH ANCESTRY BACK TO SCOTLAND,

WHERE SOME OF THE BALLADS THAT INSPIRED

HIS SONGS ORIGINATED...

ROSANNE HAS BEEN DELIGHTED BY THIS CONNECTION SINCE SHE

FIRST LEARNED OF IT...

CASH: I LOVE SCOTLAND, I LOVE THE SCOTS.

AND I LOVED THE MUSIC.

THAT SENSE OF MELANCHOLY, SENSE OF HISTORY IN THOSE

BALLADS JUST FELT RIGHT TO ME.

THEN WHEN I FIRST WENT TO THAT AREA WHERE THE CASH NAMES

WERE AROUND NEAR FALKLAND,

STRATHMIGLO IS THE NAME OF THE TOWN.

I FELT THIS SENSE OF HOME, YOU KNOW?

DEEP CONNECTION.

GATES: ISN'T THAT A SPECIAL FEELING?

CASH: DON'T TELL ME IT'S NOT TRUE.

(LAUGHTER).

GATES: I WAS CERTAINLY NOT ABOUT TO CORRECT JOHNNY CASH'S

GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH,

WHICH AS IT TURNS OUT WAS QUITE GOOD.

AND FOR THAT REASON, ROSANNE HAS AN EXCELLENT UNDERSTANDING

OF THE PATERNAL SIDE OF HER FAMILY TREE.

BUT HER MATERNAL SIDE, WAS ANOTHER MATTER.

ROSANNE KNEW THAT HER MOTHER, VIVIAN LIBERTO,

COULD TRACE HER ANCESTRY BACK TO SICILY.

BUT BEYOND THAT, VIVIAN'S ROOTS WERE A MYSTERY.

WE SET OUT TO UNRAVEL THAT MYSTERY,

BEGINNING WITH THE MAN WHO BROUGHT

THE FAMILY TO AMERICA...

ROSANNE'S GREAT-GRANDFATHER, ROSARIO LIBERTO.

GATES: ROSANNE, THIS IS A PASSENGER LIST FOR A SHIP

CALLED THE SS MONTEBELLO...

CASH: OH, MY GOD.

GATES: WHICH ARRIVED AT THE PORT OF NEW ORLEANS ON

NOVEMBER 22, 1895.

COULD YOU READ THE HIGHLIGHTED SECTION?

CASH: "ROSARIO LIBERTO, AGE 21, OCCUPATION FARMER."

GATES: AND IF YOU LOOK TO YOUR LEFT YOU

CAN SEE THE VERY SHIP...

CASH: OH MY GOSH.

GATES: THAT CARRIED HIM TO THE UNITED STATES.

CASH: HOW DID YOU FIND A PICTURE OF THIS SHIP?

YOU JUST DO.

GATES: THAT'S WHAT WE DO. CASH: THAT'S WHAT YOU DO.

WOW.

GATES: THIS LIST PROVIDED A WEALTH OF INFORMATION ABOUT

ROSARIO, INCLUDING THE FACT THAT HE CAME FROM A TOWN ON

THE COAST OF NORTHERN SICILY CALLED CEFALÙ...

BUT IT ALSO PROVIDED SOMETHING MORE PERSONAL.

A HINT OF ROMANCE.

SCANNING ITS PAGES, WE NOTICED THAT ONE OF ROSARIO'S FELLOW

PASSENGERS, TRAVELING IN A SEPARATE PARTY,

WAS A YOUNG WOMAN FROM CEFALÙ HER NAME WAS ANGELINA RINAUDO.

THE NAME STOOD OUT BECAUSE LESS THAN FOUR YEARS AFTER

ARRIVING IN AMERICA,

ANGELINA AND ROSARIO WOULD MARRY...

CASH: THEY HAD TO MEET ON THE SHIP.

GATES: THEY HAD TO MEET ON THE SHIP,

IF NOT BACK IN CEFALU.

CASH: YEAH.

GATES: "YOU LOOK ITALIAN. WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

CEFALU... I'M FROM CEFALU."

CASH: RIGHT. RIGHT. LET'S HAVE A DRINK.

GATES: ROSANNE WONDERED WHY HER ANCESTORS LEFT THEIR

HOMETOWN IN THE FIRST PLACE.

WE CAN'T BE CERTAIN, BUT THE ANSWER IS LIKELY ECONOMIC...

AT THE TIME, SICILY WAS AMONG THE POOREST PLACES IN EUROPE,

BESET BY HUNGER AND SOCIAL UNREST.

THIS COMBINATION DROVE A MASSIVE MIGRATION TO THE

UNITED STATES WITH NEW ORLEANS BEING A PRINCIPLE DESTINATION:

BETWEEN 1884 AND 1924, ROUGHLY 300,000 ITALIANS,

MOST FROM SICILY, ARRIVED IN THE CITY LOOKING FOR WORK.

LIKE ROSARIO, MANY HAD BEEN FARMERS BACK HOME.

AND AS NEWSPAPERS FROM THE ERA MAKE CLEAR,

THE WORK THEY FOUND IN THIS COUNTRY

WAS OFTEN BACKBREAKING...

CASH: "LARGE NUMBER OF THESE SICILIANS OR ITALIANS ARE

EMPLOYED ON NEARLY EVERY BIG SUGAR PLANTATION IN THE STATE,

HAVING SUPERSEDED THE NEGRO FOR SEVERAL REASONS,

TWO OF WHICH ARE THAT THEY ARE CHEAPER AND

ARE MORE INDUSTRIOUS."

WOW.

GATES: THINK ABOUT HOW BAD THINGS MUST HAVE BEEN IN ORDER

FOR PEOPLE TO DECIDE THAT WORKING ON A LOUISIANA SUGAR

PLANTATION WAS BETTER THAN STAYING BACK HOME.

CASH: BUT DO YOU THINK HE KNEW THAT'S WHAT HE WOULD DO?

OR DID HE HAVE A DREAM OF SOMETHING BETTER AND THEN THIS

IS WHAT WAS AVAILABLE?

GATES: WELL, WE KNOW THAT PEOPLE WERE RECRUITED.

CASH: RIGHT.

GATES: YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT AN ACCIDENT THAT ALL THESE

PEOPLE WOULD COME.

CASH: YEAH.

GATES: THEY WERE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE TO WORK

THE SUGAR PLANTATION.

WE DON'T KNOW IF HE WAS ONE OF THEM OR NOT BUT IT'S LIKELY.

CASH: RIGHT. THAT'S FASCINATING.

GATES: IF ROSARIO DID WORK ON A SUGAR PLANTATION,

HE DIDN'T WORK THERE FOR LONG.

HE WAS A BUSINESSMAN AT HEART.

WITHIN FIVE YEARS AFTER ARRIVING IN NEW ORLEANS,

HE HAD MOVED HIS FAMILY TO TEXAS WHERE HE FOUNDED A

SERIES OF STORES, CULMINATING IN WHAT IS KNOWN AS THE

"LIBERTO MARKET AND GROCERY" A SAN ANTONIO INSTITUTION THAT

WAS STILL BEING CELEBRATED IN THE LOCAL PRESS

DECADES AFTER IT OPENED...

CASH: "IT IS DUE TO A WELL-DESERVED POPULARITY AND

PATRONAGE THAT LIBERTO FOUND IT NECESSARY TO INSTALL A

RETAIL DEPARTMENT THROUGH WHICH IS BEING DISPENSED,

PRINCIPALLY, IMPORTED OLIVE OIL, CHEESE, MACARONI,

SAUSAGE, AND NUMEROUS SMALLER ARTICLES."

GATES: DID YOU KNOW THIS?

CASH: IT SOUNDS LIKE "THE GODFATHER PART ONE."

GATES: YEAH. THAT'S TRUE. THAT'S TRUE.

CASH: I KNEW THAT THEY HAD A STORE.

I HAD NO IDEA THAT IT WAS THIS,

THAT THEY IMPORTED ALL THESE THINGS.

GATES: WELL, YOUR GREAT-GRANDFATHER BECAME A

SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR AND VERY QUICKLY.

REMEMBER, HE ARRIVES IN 1895, RIGHT?

AND THAT PHOTO IS FROM 1911.

THAT IS A PHOTO OF THE STORE.

CASH: WOW. IT'S IMPRESSIVE.

THEY DID A GOOD JOB.

GATES: THEY DID A FABULOUS JOB, MIRACULOUS.

CASH: YEAH. MIRACULOUS.

GATES: WHEN ROSANNE'S GREAT-GRANDPARENTS

ARRIVED IN AMERICA,

I DOUBT THAT EITHER COULD HAVE POSSIBLY IMAGINED

HOW BRILLIANTLY THEY WOULD THRIVE.

BUT THEIR SUCCESS OBSCURES A COSTLY SACRIFICE.

IN LEAVING SICILY BEHIND, THEY CUT TIES WITH THEIR ROOTS.

INDEED, THE VERY NAMES OF THEIR ITALIAN ANCESTORS HAVE

BEEN LOST WITHIN ROSANNE'S FAMILY.

WE SET OUT TO RECOVER THEM AND WE WERE ABLE TO TRACE BACK

TO THE EARLY 18TH CENTURY IN CEFALÙ AND UNCOVER THE

BURIAL RECORD OF A MAN NAMED GIUSEPPE RINALDO...

GIUSEPPE RINALDO, ROSANNE, IS YOUR FIFTH-GREAT-GRANDFATHER.

GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GREAT- GRANDFATHER!

CASH: WOW.

GATES: HE WAS BORN AROUND THE YEAR 1723 LIKELY IN A PLACE

WHERE YOU DEFINITELY SHOULD OWN PROPERTY, CEFALU.

THINK ABOUT IT.

THAT'S 300 YEARS AGO.

CASH: THIS MAKES ME REALIZE THAT THEY WERE IN CEFALU EVEN

BEFORE THAT AND BEFORE THAT AND BEFORE THAT.

IT'S AMAZING.

GATES: YEAH AND LOOK OVER ON THE LEFT,

THAT IS THE HISTORIC CEFALU CATHEDRAL.

CASH: INCREDIBLE.

GATES: AND YOUR FIFTH-GREAT-GRANDFATHER IS

BURIED THERE.

CASH: OH MY GOD.

IT'S ODD HOW IT MAKES ME FEEL A LITTLE

DIFFERENTLY ABOUT MYSELF.

GATES: HOW SO?

CASH: BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THEM AND IT MAKES

ME FEEL MORE CONNECTED TO THAT PART OF MY ANCESTRY AND

IT MAKES ME FEEL PROUD.

I MEAN, IT'S A FAMILY, THEY'VE BEEN AROUND A WHILE.

GATES: YOU HAVE DEEP SICILIAN ROOTS.

CASH: YEAH. I DO.

GATES: LIKE ROSANNE, CLINT BLACK'S MATERNAL ROOTS

ALSO LIE IN NORTHERN SICILY...

IN FACT, HIS ANCESTORS AND HER ANCESTORS LIVED JUST

A FEW DOZEN MILES FROM EACH OTHER.

BUT WHILE ROSANNE'S FAMILY WERE FARMERS,

CLINT'S FAMILY FOLLOWED A DIFFERENT PATH.

CLINT'S GREAT-GRANDFATHER, A MAN NAMED VINCENT SCHERMA,

PLAYED THE VIOLIN.

AND THE STORY OF HOW HE CAME TO AMERICA AS PART

OF AN ORCHESTRA HAS BEEN TOLD AND RETOLD WITHIN

CLINT'S FAMILY FOR GENERATIONS.

BUT, UNFORTUNATELY, WHEN WE LOOKED AT VINCENT'S ARRIVAL

RECORD, THE DETAILS OF THAT STORY BEGAN TO FALL APART...

BLACK: "SCHERMA, VINCENZO, MUSICIAN, NATIONALITY ITALY,

LAST PERMANENT RESIDENCE PALERMO, ITALY...

FINAL DESTINATION NEW YORK, BROOKLYN,

PASSAGE PAID BY SELF."

GATES: NOW, YOUR MOM HAS A STORY ABOUT HOW VINCENT GOT

TO THE UNITED STATES, RIGHT?

BLACK: YEAH.

JUST THAT HE WAS PLAYING IN AN ORCHESTRA AS A VIOLINIST AND

THE ORCHESTRA CAME OVER TO TOUR THE U.S. AND THAT

WHEN THE ORCHESTRA WENT HOME, HE STAYED.

I'M STARTING TO HAVE MY DOUBTS THAT HE WAS PLAYING

IN AN ORCHESTRA.

GATES: YEAH. IT'S A FANTASTIC STORY...

BLACK: SURE.

GATES: BUT WE CAN'T ASCERTAIN IF IT'S TRUE.

BLACK: CAN'T FIND THE REST OF THE ORCHESTRA!

GATES: YEAH, RIGHT.

THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT VINCENT TRAVELED TO

AMERICA WITH ANY KIND OF GROUP, MUSICAL OR OTHERWISE.

HE CAME ON HIS OWN, AN IMMIGRANT,

LIKELY LOOKING FOR WORK.

BUT THE FAMILY STORY MAY HAVE HAD A KERNEL OF TRUTH TO IT.

ROUGHLY A YEAR AFTER ARRIVING IN BROOKLYN,

VINCENT APPEARS IN THE CENSUS FOR

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA

LISTED IN THE SAME HOUSEHOLD AS TWO OTHER ITALIAN

MEN AND THEY ALL HAD A COMMON OCCUPATION...

BLACK: BUNCH OF MUSICIANS HANGING OUT.

GATES: BUNCH OF MUSICIANS.

SO, THIS IS YOUR GREAT GRANDFATHER VINCENT,

OR VINCENZO, ONE YEAR AFTER ARRIVING IN THE UNITED STATES.

HE WAS 31 YEARS OLD, AND HE WAS LIVING IN A BOARDING HOUSE

IN JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA.

REMEMBER, HE HAD COME TO NEW YORK AND A YEAR LATER

HE'S IN FLORIDA WITH THESE OTHER MUSICIANS.

SO, WE THINK THAT'S WHERE THAT STORY CAME FROM.

BLACK: OKAY.

GATES: WE HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING HOW HE ENDED UP MAKING

HIS WAY TO JACKSONVILLE FROM NEW YORK CITY.

BLACK: I TRAVEL ABOUT 500 MILES A DAY TO FIND WORK.

GATES: RIGHT. HAVE GIG WILL TRAVEL.

BLACK: YEAH.

GATES: HAVE YOU EVER PLAYED A GIG IN JACKSONVILLE?

BLACK: I HAVE.

GATES: WELL, YOU SEE, YOU'RE FOLLOWING IN

THE FAMILY TRADITION.

BLACK: I'LL NEVER PLAY IN JACKSONVILLE NOW WITHOUT

THINKING OF THIS.

GATES: WE DON'T KNOW WHAT KIND OF GIG VINCENT

HAD IN JACKSONVILLE.

BUT IT WOULDN'T BE HIS LAST ONE.

WE PICKED UP HIS TRAIL EIGHT YEARS LATER IN

MOBILE, ALABAMA WHERE VINCENT HAD A JOB AT ONE OF

THE CITY'S SILENT MOVIE THEATERS...

BLACK: THAT'S AMAZING.

GATES: THE "TALKIES", FILMS WITH SYNCHRONIZED SOUND,

HADN'T BEEN INVENTED YET SO MUSICIANS LIKE YOUR ANCESTOR

PLAYED THE SCORE LIVE.

WHILE PEOPLE WERE WATCHING SILENT FILMS HE WAS THERE.

(MIMICKING VIOLIN PLAYING)

DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA?

BLACK: NO, I DIDN'T.

GATES: I WANT TO SHOW YOU SOMETHING ELSE.

PLEASE TURN THE PAGE.

CLINT, THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT FOR A FILM

CALLED "CLEOPATRA", ONE OF THE FILMS THAT THE EMPIRE THEATRE

WAS SHOWING IN SEPTEMBER 1918,

WHEN YOUR ANCESTOR WAS WORKING THERE.

BLACK: THAT'S AMAZING.

IT LOOKED LIKE THEY HAD TO PLAY A LOT.

ONE, TWO THREE, FOUR, FIVE SIX, SEVEN SHOWS.

THAT'S A LOT OF GIGS.

GATES: YOU GOT IT.

VINCENT WOULD HAVE KNOWN HOW TO CREATE ATMOSPHERE AND

ADD EMOTION TO A FILM.

AND HE WAS LIKELY AN EXCELLENT IMPROVISOR.

BLACK: YOU KNOW, THAT'S FUNNY.

THAT'S WHAT I'VE STRIVEN MOST TO BECOME IS AN IMPROVISOR

BECAUSE I CAN TEACH MYSELF THINGS BUT TO BE ABLE TO PLAY

WITH OTHER MUSICIANS AND HAVE A CONVERSATION YOU NEED

TO BE ABLE TO IMPROVISE AND IT'S NOT EASY.

GATES: NO AND YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE A GOOD EAR AND BE VERY

SENSITIVE AND IN THE MOMENT.

BLACK: AND FEARLESS. GATES: YEAH, AND FEARLESS.

VINCENT WAS, INDEED, FEARLESS.

HE ARRIVED IN THE UNITED STATES WITH LITTLE MORE

THAN HIS TALENT AND HE MADE A LIFE FOR HIMSELF, MARRYING,

RAISING A FAMILY AND ULTIMATELY, IN 1941,

AT THE AGE OF THE AGE OF SIXTY-TWO,

BECOMING A UNITED STATES CITIZEN.

GATES: DO YOU THINK THAT VINCENT ENJOYED HIS

LIFE IN AMERICA?

BLACK: THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION.

HOW WOULD I KNOW?

I MEAN THERE ARE NO STORIES OF HIS WOES, OF HIS TRIUMPHS.

HE HAD WORK AS A MUSICIAN.

I KNOW WHEN I MADE MY DECISION TO PURSUE A LIFE OF MUSIC THAT

I WOULD HAVE PROBABLY BEEN HAPPY PLAYING REGARDLESS

OF MY SUCCESS.

GATES: OH YEAH.

BLACK: IT MAKES ME FEEL JUST VERY LUCKY THAT HE

MADE THE TRIP, THAT HE MADE THAT CHOICE.

AND, UH, IT'S JUST SO MUCH BY CHANCE THAT I'M BORN HERE.

MY LIFE COULD HAVE BEEN VERY DIFFERENT.

GATES: WE HAD NOW INTRODUCED EACH OF MY GUESTS TO THEIR

SICILIAN ANCESTORS, ILLUMINATING THE RICHNESS OF

AMERICA'S IMMIGRANT TRADITION.

IT WAS TIME TO EXPLORE A VERY DIFFERENT ASPECT

OF OUR SHARED HISTORY,

OUR COUNTRY'S TORTURED EXPERIENCE WITH RACE.

FOR ROSANNE, THIS MEANT REVISITING ONE OF THE UGLIEST

MOMENTS OF HER CHILDHOOD.

IN 1965, WHEN SHE WAS JUST TEN YEARS OLD,

HER FATHER WAS ARRESTED FOR POSSESSION OF AMPHETAMINES.

AS THE STORY BEGAN TO UNFOLD, A PHOTOGRAPH OF HER PARENTS

APPEARED IN THE NATIONAL PRESS AND MANY SAW ROSANNE'S

MOTHER VIVIAN FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME...

TO SOME, VIVIAN APPEARED TO BE AFRICAN AMERICAN,

AT A TIME WHEN INTER-RACIAL MARRIAGE WAS STILL ILLEGAL

ACROSS THE SOUTH.

THIS SPARKED AN APPALLING OUTCRY...

CASH: "THE BEST-KEPT SECRET SINCE THE ATOMIC BOMB HAS BEEN

THE FACT THAT SINGER JOHNNY CASH HAS A NEGRESS

FOR A WIFE AND THEY HAVE

FOUR MONGRELIZED CHILDREN."

GATES: I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT WHEN I SAW THIS.

YOUR PARENTS WERE THE TARGET OF A RACIST HATE CAMPAIGN.

CASH: OH, YEAH.

GATES: YOU WERE NINE YEARS OLD.

WERE YOU AWARE OF THIS WHEN IT HAPPENED?

DID YOUR FAMILY TALK ABOUT IT?

CASH: THEY DIDN'T TALK TO US ABOUT IT IN THAT WAY

THAT YOU DIDN'T TELL CHILDREN WHAT WAS GOING ON BACK THEN,

BUT I KNEW ABOUT IT.

IT WAS IN THE PAPER.

THERE WAS A LOT OF UPSET WITH MY PARENTS.

MY DAD GOT INTO A PUBLIC BATTLE WITH THE KKK...

GATES: MM-HMM.

CASH: AND SO I KNEW ABOUT THAT AND IT WAS SCARY.

GATES: FOR OVER A YEAR, ROSANNE'S FAMILY WAS HARASSED

INCESSANTLY, AS WHITE SUPREMACISTS,

HOPING TO PUSH BACK AGAINST THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT,

SOUGHT TO PORTRAY HER PARENTS AS EMBLEMS OF

A SOCIETY GONE ASTRAY.

ROSANNE'S FATHER EVEN WENT SO FAR AS TO MAKE A PUBLIC

STATEMENT THAT HIS WIFE WAS, IN FACT, WHITE.

BUT OUR RESEARCHERS WOULD FIND THAT THE STORY WAS MORE

COMPLEX THAN THE FAMILY COULD POSSIBLY KNOW.

IN THE 1870 CENSUS,

WE NOTICED SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT ROSANNE'S

GREAT-GREAT-GRANDFATHER,

A MAN NAMED LAFAYETTE ROBINSON...

ROSANNE, COULD YOU PLEASE TELL ME WHAT THE CENSUS SAYS

ABOUT LAFAYETTE'S PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION?

CASH: "MALE, M?"

GATES: ANY IDEA WHAT "M" STANDS FOR?

CASH: NO...

GATES: MULATTO.

CASH: SO HE WAS HALF BLACK, HALF WHITE.

GATES: HE WAS MIXED RACE.

CASH: SO IT WAS AT LEAST A SMALL PART TRUE.

GATES: THIS CENSUS STRONGLY SUGGESTS THAT ROSANNE DOES

INDEED HAVE AFRICAN ANCESTRY.

AND WE WANTED TO FIND OUT WHERE IT CAME FROM...

OUR SEARCH SOON FOCUSED ON LAFAYETTE'S MOTHER,

A WOMAN NAMED SARAH SHIELDS.

SARAH IS ROSANNE'S THIRD GREAT-GRANDMOTHER AND

IN THE ARCHIVES OF DALLAS COUNTY, ALABAMA,

WE DISCOVERED THAT SHE WAS BORN INTO SLAVERY AND

THEN WAS FREED,

IN THE YEAR 1848, BY HER OWN FATHER,

A WHITE PLANTER NAMED WILLIAM B. SHIELDS...

CASH: "MY NATURAL DAUGHTER, SARAH,

A FREE GIRL OF COLOR DULY AND REGULARLY EMANCIPATED.

APPROVED MARCH 4, 1848."

SO HE GOT PERMISSION TO FREE HER?

GATES: AND YOU KNOW WHY SHE HAD TO BE FREED?

CASH: WHY?

GATES: BECAUSE THAT MEANS HER MOTHER WAS A SLAVE.

CASH: OH, OF COURSE.

GATES: YOU FOLLOW THE CONDITION OF THE MOTHER.

NORMALLY, IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION YOU FOLLOW THE

CONDITION OF THE FATHER BUT UNDER SLAVERY BECAUSE SO MANY

MASTERS RAPED OR IMPREGNATED OR FORCED, CAJOLED,

WHATEVER THE CIRCUMSTANCES MIGHT HAVE BEEN,

A CHILD BORN OF A SLAVE WAS A SLAVE NO MATTER WHO

THE FATHER WAS.

CASH: NO MATTER WHO THE FATHER WAS.

GATES: SO HE WENT TO AN EXTRAORDINARY LENGTH.

BY LAW, THIS IS WHAT HE HAD TO DO.

HE HAD TO GET AN ACT OF LEGISLATURE TO

FREE HIS DAUGHTER.

AND THE REASON WILLIAM HAD TO EMANCIPATE HIS DAUGHTER WAS

BECAUSE HER MOTHER, YOUR FOURTH GREAT-GRANDMOTHER,

WAS AN AFRICAN AMERICAN SLAVE.

CASH: WOW.

GATES: WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BEGIN TO THINK ABOUT THAT?

CASH: IT FEELS....

HEARTBREAKING.

I JUST KIND OF WISH I COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND FIX THINGS.

GATES: THERE IS NO SOFTENING THE HORROR OF SLAVERY,

BUT ROSANNE'S ANCESTOR, WILLIAM SHIELDS,

WASN'T AN ORDINARY MASTER...

WHEN WILLIAM FREED HIS DAUGHTER SARAH,

HE ALSO FREED EIGHT OTHER AFRICAN AMERICANS AS WELL...

AND GUESS WHAT THEY HAD IN COMMON?

CASH: NO. THEY WERE ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS?

GATES: THEY WERE ALL HIS CHILDREN.

CASH: OH, MY GOD.

GATES: HE HAD NINE CHILDREN WHO WERE ENSLAVED AND

HE FREED THEM ALL IN THAT DOCUMENT IN 1848.

CASH: THAT IS AN INCREDIBLE THING.

GATES: ROSANNE WONDERED WHETHER WILLIAM HAD A WIFE AND

HOW SHE AND THEIR COMMUNITY,

MIGHT HAVE FELT ABOUT HIM AND HIS ENSLAVED CHILDREN.

WE FOUND NO EVIDENCE THAT WILLIAM EVER MARRIED...

BUT REGARDING HIS COMMUNITY, COURT RECORDS SUGGEST THAT

THEY DID NOT APPROVE...

CASH: "PLAINTIFF WAS NOT RECOGNIZED IN GOOD SOCIETY

HAVING REARED A FAMILY OF CHILDREN BY A NEGRO WOMAN."

OH, SO HE PAID A PRICE.

GATES: HE PAID A PRICE.

CASH: YEAH. WOW.

GATES: SO NOW, KNOWING THIS,

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SARAH'S FATHER,

YOUR FOURTH GREAT-GRANDFATHER?

CASH: WELL, HE CLEARLY KNEW HIS OWN MIND.

HE WASN'T GOING TO BE SWAYED BY THE FACT THAT HE WAS,

YOU KNOW, EXCLUDED FROM GOOD SOCIETY.

I MEAN YOU HAVE TO THINK THAT HE REALLY DEEPLY CARED

ABOUT THIS WOMAN AND THESE CHILDREN.

GATES: WE WANTED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SARAH'S MOTHER,

ROSANNE'S 4TH GREAT-GRANDMOTHER...

DESPITE OUR MOST DILIGENT EFFORTS,

WE COULDN'T FIND HER NAME.

HOWEVER, IN 1880, NEAR THE END OF HER LIFE,

SARAH GAVE A DEPOSITION IN A DISPUTE REGARDING HER FATHER'S

PROPERTY AND PROVIDED SOME TELLING DETAILS

ABOUT HER MOTHER...

CASH: "WILLIAM B. SHIELDS

AND MY MOTHER WERE NOT MARRIED.

SHE WAS A NEGRESS.

SHE WAS NEVER EMANCIPATED BY THE LEGISLATURE.

MY FATHER GAVE OUR MOTHER TO US BY A DEED DIRECT.

SHE IS NOW DEAD.

SHE DIED IN PERRY COUNTY, ALABAMA

IN 1838 OR '39."

WOW.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT'S INTERESTING IS THERE'S DEEP

ANCESTRAL GUILT ABOUT BEING A SLAVEHOLDER,

ABOUT MY ANCESTORS BEING SLAVEHOLDER'S.

BUT IT'S SLIGHTLY MITIGATED BY THE FACT THAT

I ALSO HAD AN ANCESTOR WHO WAS ENSLAVED.

GATES: YES, THAT'S RIGHT.

CASH: I MEAN THAT'S KIND OF A CHEAP AND UNFAIR WAY

TO PUT IT BUT...

GATES: NO, YOU DESCEND FROM A BLACK WOMAN.

I MEAN YOUR FOURTH GREAT-GRANDMOTHER WAS

A BLACK WOMAN.

CASH: AN ENSLAVED BLACK WOMAN.

GATES: AN ENSLAVED BLACK WOMAN WHOSE HUSBAND FREED

THEIR NINE CHILDREN AND TOOK CARE OF THEM.

CASH: NINE CHILDREN.

GOD BLESS HER.

GATES: SARAH'S PARENTS ARE TWO OF THE MOST UNUSUAL CHARACTERS

WE'VE EVER UNCOVERED IN THIS SERIES AND THEIR DAUGHTER

FOLLOWED THEIR EXAMPLE, LIVING IN A MANNER THAT WAS

HIGHLY ATYPICAL FOR A PERSON BORN INTO SLAVERY...

MOST NOTABLY, IN 1838, TEN YEARS BEFORE SHE WAS FREED,

SARAH MARRIED A WHITE MAN.

HIS NAME WAS ANDERSON ROBINSON.

AND THIS MARRIAGE OCCURRED WHEN SLAVES WERE GENERALLY

FORBIDDEN TO MARRY!

HOW DID SARAH GET AWAY WITH THAT?

THE ANSWER LIKELY LIES WITH HER FATHER'S SUPPORT,

NOT TO MENTION HIS WEALTH.

AND HIS ABILITY TO SWAY THE COUNTY CLERKS WHO REGISTERED

MARRIAGES IN ALABAMA...

COUNTY CLERKS, IN FACT, COULD EXERCISE A FAIR AMOUNT

OF DISCRETION IN WHAT THEY ALLOWED OR DIDN'T ALLOW.

IN EFFECT, THEY WERE MAKING UP THE LAW AS THEY WENT ALONG.

SINCE COUNTY CLERKS GOT PAID THROUGH FEES FOR SERVICES THEY

TENDED TO BE MORE PERMISSIVE THAN WE MIGHT IMAGINE TODAY.

ANDERSON ROBINSON POSTED A $200 BOND AT THE TIME

OF HIS MARRIAGE.

CASH: THAT WAS A LOT OF MONEY.

WOW.

GATES: AND THAT CLERK SAID, "LOOK WHITE TO ME.

SHE LOOK FREE, TOO."

I CAN IMAGINE RICHARD PRYOR HAVING A FIELD DAY ON THIS.

ANY OTHER WHITE WOMEN YOU WANT TO MARRY?

THERE WAS ONE FINAL BEAT TO THIS STORY.

ROSANNE'S ANCESTORS HAD LIVED OPENLY AS A MIXED RACE FAMILY

DURING THE SLAVE ERA...

BUT WHEN JIM CROW BECAME THE LAW OF THE LAND,

DEFINING THE COLOR LINE IN THE MOST RIGID AND ARBITRARY WAYS,

THEY DECIDED TO CONCEAL THEIR AFRICAN AMERICAN ANCESTRY...

A DECISION THAT WAS SET DOWN PLAINLY IN THE DEATH RECORDS

OF SARAH'S CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN...

WOULD YOU PLEASE TELL ME THE RACE OF ALL THOSE

INDIVIDUALS AS RECORDED?

CASH: "WHITE, WHITE, WHITE."

GATES: WHITE.

ROSANNE, BY THE 1930'S AND MUCH LIKELY EARLIER,

SARAH'S DESCENDANTS HAD ALL IDENTIFIED AS WHITE AND THAT'S

LIKELY WHY TO THIS DAY MANY OF THEIR DIRECT DESCENDANTS,

INCLUDING THE ONE I AM STARING AT HAVE NO IDEA THAT

THEY HAVE ANY AFRICAN AMERICAN ANCESTRY.

CASH: WOW.

GATES: WHAT WOULD YOUR MOM THINK OF THIS HAD SHE BEEN

ALIVE TO SEE IT?

CASH: I THINK EARLY IN HER LIFE IT

WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT,

PARTICULARLY GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED IN 1965 AND

THAT WHOLE HORRIBLE SITUATION.

I THINK BY THE END OF HER LIFE SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN

INTERESTED, YOU KNOW, THAT SHE HAD THAT COMPLEX OF A

BACKGROUND AND THE STORIES

THAT ARE IN BACK OF THESE RACIAL IDENTIFIERS.

GATES: WHAT DOES THIS STORY MEAN TO YOU?

TO KNOW THIS.

I MEAN OF ALL THE THINGS THAT YOU COULD POSSIBLY HAVE

IMAGINED WERE HIDDEN ON YOUR FAMILY TREE I DON'T

THINK THIS WAS IN THE LIST OF POSSIBILITY.

CASH: NO. NO. I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

IT MEANS THAT IN MYSELF THOSE QUALITIES THAT I IDENTIFY AS

TENACIOUS OR COMPASSIONATE OR LOVING OR DEFIANT,

MY OWN SENSE OF FREEDOM AND THAT THEY HAVE ROOTS,

THAT THERE'S A THREAD GOING BACK TO WHERE

I GOT THOSE THINGS.

GATES: LIKE ROSANNE, CLINT BLACK WAS ABOUT TO

CONFRONT THE LEGACY OF SLAVERY WITHIN HIS OWN FAMILY TREE...

AS A NATIVE OF TEXAS,

WITH DEEP ROOTS ACROSS THE AMERICAN SOUTH,

CLINT HAD LONG SUSPECTED THAT SOME OF HIS

ANCESTORS MAY HAVE OWNED OTHER HUMAN BEINGS...

OUR RESEARCHERS FOUND THAT HE WAS CORRECT.

WE IDENTIFIED AT LEAST SIXTEEN SLAVE OWNING ANCESTORS ON

CLINT'S FAMILY TREE...

GATES: I MEAN YOU MUST HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT DID

YOUR FAMILY OWN SLAVES?

BLACK: YEAH.

AND I'M VERY AWARE OF OUR HISTORY WITH SLAVERY,

WHICH IS JUST VERY SAD AND SHAMEFUL.

AND THE THING THAT I ALWAYS THINK OF WHEN I'M WATCHING

DOCUMENTARIES OR READING ANY STORIES,

YOU JUST HOPE THAT THERE'S HUMANITY AT LEAST.

GATES: SURE.

BLACK: AND THAT, YOU KNOW,

I DON'T KNOW IF YOU CAN USE THE TERM TREAT WITH

DIGNITY AND HUMANITY WHEN IT COMES TO THAT

BUT IT'S THAT WRESTLED WITH THOUGHT IN THE BRAIN.

GATES: YES.

WELL, IN SOME OF THE SLAVE TESTIMONIES THEY SAY MY MASTER

BEAT ME OR WORSE AND OTHERS THEY SAY MY MASTER WAS HUMANE.

BUT SLAVERY, BEING OWNED IS A HORRIBLE

SITUATION NO MATTER...

BLACK: IT GOES AGAINST THAT WORD RIGHT OFF THE BAT.

GATES: YEAH.

NO GOOD MASTER OR BAD MASTER.

AS WE RESEARCHED THIS GRIM SIDE OF CLINT'S ANCESTRY,

ONE STORY STOOD OUT...

IT BEGINS WITH HIS FOURTH GREAT-GRANDFATHER,

A MAN NAMED EDMUND CORLEY.

EDMUND WAS BORN IN VIRGINIA IN 1811 AND ULTIMATELY SETTLED

IN SHELBY COUNTY, TEXAS,

WHERE HE BECAME A PROSPEROUS FARMER AND A SLAVE OWNER.

WHEN THE CIVIL WAR ERUPTED,

HE WAS MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS OLD

AND HE HAD A GREAT DEAL TO LOSE,

INCLUDING HIS WEALTH AND HIS FIVE SONS...

SO DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR ANCESTORS' INVOLVEMENT IN

THE CIVIL WAR?

HAVE YOU HEARD ANY STORIES?

BLACK: I DON'T. NO, I HAVEN'T HEARD ANYTHING.

GATES: FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT.

ALL RIGHT. PLEASE TURN THE PAGE.

BLACK: DID HE GO UP TO THE NORTH AND FIGHT FOR FREEDOM?

GATES: CLINT, THESE ARE ALL CIVIL WAR SERVICE RECORDS

THAT ARE STORED IN THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES.

WOULD YOU PLEASE READ ME THE TRANSCRIBED NAMES

YOU SEE THERE?

BLACK: "CORLEY, W.W. CORLEY, GABRIEL.

CORLEY, ALFRED B. CORLEY, A.D."

GATES: ALFRED B. CORLEY IS YOUR THIRD GREAT GRANDFATHER.

THAT'S EDMUND CORLEY'S SON.

THE OTHER THREE ARE ALFRED'S BROTHERS,

WINSLOW OR W.W., GABRIEL AND A.D.

SO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS, FOUR OUT OF FIVE OF EDMUND'S

SONS SERVED IN THE CONFEDERACY.

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO LEARN THIS?

BLACK: YOU KNOW, AS MUCH AS I WANT TO LOOK AT THE TIMES THEY

WERE LIVING IN AND THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES THAT MADE THEIR

STAND OKAY TO THEM,

IT'S NOT SOMETHING I WANT TO RELATE TO.

GATES: CLINT'S AMBIVALENCE WAS UNDERSTANDABLE.

BUT WITHIN HIS FAMILY'S PAPERS WE FOUND A POEM WRITTEN

BY ONE OF THE CORLEY BOYS,

CLINT'S THIRD GREAT-GRANDUNCLE,

WINSLOW CORLEY AND IT BROUGHT HIM TO LIFE IN A WAY THAT WAS

GENUINELY AFFECTING...

BLACK: "TO MY MOTHER.

OH, MOTHER, I LONG TO SEE YOU AGAIN,

I LONG TO BE WITH YOU IN PEACE ONCE MORE.

OH, MOTHER.

TWAS HARD TO LEAVE YOU IN AGE,

WHEN THE WINDS OF WINTER WERE CHILLING YOUR VEINS,

BUT MY COUNTRY, IT CALLED ME,

I HASTEN AWAY.

FROM MY OWN NATIVE STATE AND ITS FAIR VERDANT PLAIN.

BUT OH, IF WE MEET NOT THIS SIDE OF THE TOMB,

GOD GRANT THAT WE MEET ON THAT RADIANT SHORE WHERE THE BELLS

OF THE GREAT CITY JOYOUSLY BOOM A WELCOME FOR SOLDIERS

WHERE WARFARE IS O'ER."

MISSISSIPPI, APRIL 10, 1864."

IT'S A MOVING POEM.

YOU KNOW, TO BE AWAY IS ONE THING.

TO BE AWAY IN DANGER, TO BE AWAY NOT KNOWING IF

YOU'LL RETURN AND EVER SEE THOSE PEOPLE AGAIN,

I CAN IMAGINE THAT'S TOUGH.

GATES: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO READ THAT?

I MEAN THIS IS FROM ONE OF YOUR OWN BLOOD KIN.

BLACK: YEAH. IT'S MIXED.

YOU KNOW, I TRY TO LEAVE OUT THE POLITICS OF IT.

GATES: SURE.

BLACK: I MEAN YOU'RE WRITING TO YOUR MOTHER TO TALK ABOUT

IF WE DON'T MEET IN THIS LIFE.

THOSE ARE HARD PILLS TO SWALLOW.

GATES: WINSLOW'S POEM WAS A PREMONITION OF SORTS.

JUST MONTHS AFTER IT WAS WRITTEN,

HE WAS KILLED IN BATTLE OUTSIDE OF ATLANTA AND HE

WASN'T THE ONLY CORLEY BOY TO DIE IN THE WAR

HIS BROTHER A.D. PERISHED AS WELL.

MEANING THEIR MOTHER CLARKEY LOST TWO OF HER FIVE SONS.

BLACK: YOU CAN'T IMAGINE THERE'S ANY WAY TO CONSOLE

A MOTHER FROM THAT.

THAT WOULD EXPLAIN SHE WOULD KEEP EVERY SCRAP OF

PAPER THAT CAME FROM HER KIDS FROM THE WAR.

GATES: YEAH.

YOU KNOW, SOMETHING I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT UNTIL

I STARTED DOING THIS SHOW, THE BODIES OF SO MANY NEVER

MADE IT HOME.

SO YOU WOULD JUST GET NEWS OF A DEATH AND YOU WERE NEVER

ABLE TO HAVE ANY FINALITY.

YOU NEVER SAW THE BODY AGAIN.

BLACK: HMM.

SO MAYBE THERE'S SOME SMALL PART OF YOU THAT

DOESN'T COMPLETELY BUY IT.

GATES: YOU GOT IT.

COULD IT BE A MISTAKE?

ARE THEY WANDERING AROUND WITH AMNESIA?

BLACK: YEAH. I'M SURE FOR A MOTHER IT'S NEVER

COMPLETELY 100% ACCEPTED.

GATES: WE DON'T KNOW HOW WINSLOW'S MOTHER DEALT WITH

THE LOSS, BUT THE FAMILY HAS PRESERVED AN ACCOUNT OF WHAT

HER HUSBAND EDMOND DID IN THE WAKE OF THE TRAGEDY...

IT SEEMS THAT WHEN THE WAR ENDED,

EDMOND SET OUT TO RECOVER THE BODIES OF HIS LOST CHILDREN.

BLACK: "HE LEFT SHELBY COUNTY ON HORSEBACK TO SEARCH FOR HIS

DECEASED SONS' GRAVES IN GEORGIA AND IN TENNESSEE.

HE FOUND NEITHER.

THE DEVASTATION, DESTRUCTION, STARVING, DISEASED,

WOUNDED AND MAIMED, ALONG WITH THE RUINS AND GENERAL

HAVOC THAT HE WITNESSED ON THAT JOURNEY MUST

HAVE BEEN TERRIBLE."

SO HE WASN'T TAKING IT. HE WASN'T ACCEPTING IT.

GATES: YEAH. BLACK: YEAH.

GATES: HE GOES, "I'M GOING TO FIND THEM."

BLACK: IT REALLY SEEMS LIKE A HOPELESS ERRAND.

GATES: OH, YEAH.

BLACK: HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FIND THEM?

THOSE NEEDLES IN THE HAYSTACKS?

BUT HIS DETERMINATION TO DEAL WITH THE PAIN,

THAT'S COMMENDABLE.

GATES: ALL TOLD, THE CIVIL WAR CLAIMED AT LEAST

750,000 LIVES AND SCHOLARS ESTIMATE THAT MORE THAN

40% OF THE DEAD WERE NEVER IDENTIFIED.

SO, IN ESSENCE, CLINT'S ANCESTOR TRAVELED HUNDREDS OF

MILES ON A QUEST THAT WAS LIKELY DOOMED FROM THE START.

THE EXPERIENCE MUST HAVE BEEN TERRIBLE,

BUT IT DIDN'T BREAK HIM.

ON THE CONTRARY, TWO YEARS LATER,

EDMUND SET OUT TO BECOME A DOCTOR AND APPLIED

TO A MEDICAL COLLEGE...

GATES: WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT,

THAT A MAN FIFTY-SIX YEARS OLD AND HE DECIDES HE'S

GOING TO AT LEAST TRY TO CHANGE COURSE.

HOW MANY FIFTY-SIX-YEAR-OLD PEOPLE ARE APPLYING

TO MED SCHOOL, YOU KNOW?

BLACK: I'M A YEAR OLDER SO.

A YEAR AGO, HAD I DONE THAT,

MY FRIENDS MAY INTERVENE.

GATES: AND SAY, "WHAT? ARE YOU CRAZY?"

BUT YOU CAN SEE THAT A TRAUMA COULD MAKE YOU SAY

I'M GOING TO GIVE THIS UP.

A TERRIBLE THING HAPPENED AND I'M GOING TO SACRIFICE MY LIFE

OR TRY TO FIX IT.

THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED WITH HIM.

BLACK: IT JUST, IT'S LIKE A CHARACTER IN SOME PLAY.

YOU TRY TO, YOU WATCH THIS PERSON GO THROUGH

METAMORPHOSIS.

GATES: WE HAD ONE MORE STORY TO SHARE WITH CLINT,

A MUCH HAPPIER STORY.

MOVING UP A DIFFERENT BRANCH OF HIS FATHER'S FAMILY TREE,

WE CAME TO ANOTHER OF HIS FOURTH GREAT-GRANDFATHERS.

A MAN NAMED GEORGE HAYS.

GEORGE WAS BORN AROUND 1760 IN SOUTH CAROLINA,

WHICH WAS THEN A BRITISH COLONY.

HE WAS A TEENAGER WHEN THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR ERUPTED AND

HE WAS FORCED TO CHOOSE A SIDE.

BURIED IN THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES IS A RECORD THAT

TELLS US HOW HE CHOSE...

BLACK: "STATE OF GEORGIA, JACKSON COUNTY.

GEORGE HAYS, WHO WAS A PRIVATE OF CAVALRY IN THE

REVOLUTIONARY WAR AND DIED ON THE 17TH OF SEPTEMBER 1843."

GATES: YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.

BLACK: THAT MEANS, YEAH, WE WERE IN THE FIGHT.

GATES: YOU'RE DESCENDED FROM A PATRIOT.

BLACK: WELL, THAT'S THE BEST NEWS I'VE HEARD ALL DAY.

GATES: GEORGE NOT ONLY SERVED IN THE REVOLUTION,

HE FOUND HIMSELF AT THE CENTER OF ONE OF ITS

MOST CELEBRATED BATTLES.

IN THE FALL OF 1780, THE BRITISH WERE FOCUSED ON THE

SOUTHERN COLONIES, HOPING TO QUELL THE REBELLION BY

DIVIDING IT IN HALF.

MOST OF THE KEY SOUTHERN CITIES HAD BEEN SUBDUED,

BUT PATRIOT FORCES LURKED IN THE

SOUTH CAROLINA BACKCOUNTRY.

SO, IN JANUARY OF 1781, THE BRITISH DISPATCHED OVER

1,000 OF THEIR FINEST TROOPS TO

WIPE OUT THOSE PATRIOTS...

CLINT'S ANCESTOR WAS IN THE BACKCOUNTRY AT THE TIME,

PART OF A MILITIA UNDER A GENERAL NAMED DANIEL MORGAN.

A MAN WHO WAS ABOUT TO BECOME A FOLK HERO...

AND MORGAN DECIDED HE HAD TWO CHOICES.

TAKE HIS MEN AND RUN,

WHICH A SENSIBLE MAN WOULD HAVE DONE,

OR MAKE A STAND.

YOU KNOW WHAT HE DID?

BLACK: MADE A STAND.

GATES: HE DID BOTH. HE RAN A LITTLE.

BLACK: WELL, HE LED THEM TO A PLACE OF ADVANTAGE, RIGHT?

GATES: RIGHT.

FOR WEEKS, MORGAN RETREATED BEFORE THE BRITISH LEADING

THEM ON A WINDING CHASE ACROSS THE BACKCOUNTRY.

THEN HE LAID THE TRAP.

BLACK: HE KNEW HE WOULD FIND A SPOT THAT WAS RIGHT.

GATES: YOU GOT IT.

MORGAN POSITIONED HIS SOLDIERS ON A LOW HILL JUST OUTSIDE THE

SMALL TOWN OF COWPENS, SOUTH CAROLINA.

HE INSTRUCTED THE MILITIAMEN ON HIS FRONTLINE'S TO

FIRE AND THEN WITHDRAW.

HOPING THE BRITISH WOULD CHARGE,

THINKING THE PATRIOTS HAD RETREATED,

THUS LEAVING THEM EXPOSED TO A SURPRISE COUNTER-ATTACK.

AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED...

GATES: THIS BATTLE ULTIMATELY LED TO THE AMERICAN VICTORY

OVER THE BRIT'S, AND YOUR ANCESTOR WAS THERE.

BLACK: THAT'S HIM RIGHT HERE, ISN'T IT?

GATES: YEAH.

HE'S GOT THE BLACK HAT ON.

BLACK: THAT RUNS IN THE FAMILY.

GATES: HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

BLACK: IT'S SO HARD.

WE CAN'T TAKE CREDIT FOR WHAT ANYONE IN

OUR ANCESTRY HAS DONE,

BUT YOU STILL WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO PEOPLE

WHO HAVE DONE GOOD.

GATES: OF COURSE.

BLACK: I'VE JOKED WITH FRIENDS ABOUT WHAT KIND OF RASCALS

WE'D FIND IN MY ANCESTRY, UM AND UH...

I'M HAPPY TO FIND SOMEONE THERE WHO WAS IN A GOOD CAUSE.

GATES: THE PAPER TRAIL HAD NOW RUN OUT FOR

EACH OF MY GUESTS,

SO WE TURNED TO DNA TO SEE WHAT WE COULD DISCOVER ABOUT

THEIR DEEPER ROOTS AND IMMEDIATELY

UNCOVERED A SURPRISE!

ROSANNE IS 3.3% SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN,

WHICH IS ROUGHLY EQUIVALENT TO HAVING A THIRD

GREAT-GRANDPARENT OF UNMIXED AFRICAN ANCESTRY.

BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT WE'D FOUND IN OUR RESEARCH!

SARAH, HER THIRD GREAT-GRANDMOTHER,

HAD A WHITE FATHER...

HER MOTHER, ROSANNE'S FOURTH GREAT GRANDMOTHER,

WAS THE ONLY ANCESTOR WE'D IDENTIFIED WHO MIGHT

EVEN POSSIBLY BE OF FULL AFRICAN DESCENT.

SO ROSANNE'S DNA WAS TELLING US THAT SHE HAS MORE RECENT

AFRICAN AMERICAN ANCESTORS THAN WE CAN IDENTIFY!

AND WHEN WE LOOKED CLOSER, WE MADE ANOTHER STARTLING

DISCOVERY ABOUT WHERE THOSE ANCESTORS CAME FROM...

GATES: YOUR SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN DNA COMES FROM THAT

UNNAMED FOURTH GREAT-GRANDMOTHER ON YOUR

MOTHER'S SIDE BUT ALSO FROM AN UNKNOWN AFRICAN ANCESTOR

ON YOUR FATHER'S SIDE.

SOMEWHERE ON YOUR FATHER'S SIDE OF THAT FAMILY TREE

SOMEBODY WAS MIXED, SOMEBODY SLEPT WITH A BLACK PERSON AND

THEY HAD A CHILD.

CASH: WOW. THAT'S GREAT.

GATES: ISN'T THAT GREAT?

CASH: YEAH.

THAT'S JUST I LOVE SCIENCE.

THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL SYMMETRY.

GATES: TURNING TO CLINT BLACK,

WE ENCOUNTERED A SIMILAR SURPRISE,

CLINT'S ADMIXTURE RESULTS LIKE ROSANNE'S,

SHOWED A DIVERSITY THAT WE HADN'T SEEN IN

THE PAPER TRAIL.

GATES: COULD YOU READ OUT LOUD THESE PERCENTAGES?

BLACK: 97.8 EUROPEAN.

GATES: 97.8 EUROPEAN.

WHAT'S NEXT, CLINT?

BLACK: 1% SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN.

GATES: 1% SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN.

BLACK: IS THAT A LOT, 1%

GATES: 1% IS A LOT.

THE AMOUNT OF DNA THAT YOU HAVE FROM SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

IS ROUGHLY EQUIVALENT TO A FOURTH OR FIFTH GREAT

GRANDPARENT OF FULL BLACK AFRICAN ANCESTRY.

SO MAYBE ONE OF THE BIGGEST SURPRISES OF THE SERIES IS

THAT CLINT BLACK IS A LITTLE BLACK.

BLACK: APTLY NAMED.

GATES: YOU DON'T WEAR THAT BLACK HAT FOR NOTHING.

BUT WHAT'S IT LIKE TO KNOW THAT?

BLACK: THAT'S EXCITING.

I LIKE HAVING THAT CONNECTION.

I KNOW WE'VE BEEN A GREAT BIG MELTING POT AND

I DON'T MIND BEING MELTED.

GATES: AND I'M HERE TO WELCOME YOU,

ON BEHALF OF THE RACE, INTO THE FOLD.

BLACK: THANK YOU.

GATES: MY TIME WITH MY GUESTS WAS RUNNING OUT,

BUT THERE WAS ONE FINAL REVELATION TO COME...

WHEN WE COMPARED ROSANNE CASH'S DNA TO THAT

OF OTHER PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN IN OUR SERIES,

WE FOUND A SIGNIFICANT MATCH,

EVIDENCE OF A RELATIVE SHE DIDN'T KNOW SHE HAD.

A RELATIVE WHOSE IDENTITY EXPANDED HER OWN...

GATES: WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET YOUR DNA COUSIN?

CASH: YES.

GATES: OKAY. PLEASE TURN THE PAGE.

CASH: WOW!

GATES: THAT IS ANGELA BASSETT.

CASH: WHOA, IT'S GONNA TAKE ME A MINUTE TO TAKE THIS IN.

GATES: YOU AND ANGELA SHARE AN IDENTICAL STRETCH OF DNA ON

THAT CHROMOSOME FOUR THAT WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT.

CASH: REALLY?

GATES: SO THIS MEANS THAT YOU TWO INHERITED THIS SHARED

DNA FROM A DISTANT COMMON BLACK ANCESTOR.

CASH: IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A BAD ASS.

GATES: THAT'S THE END OF OUR JOURNEY WITH ROSANNE CASH

AND CLINT BLACK.

JOIN ME NEXT TIME WHEN WE UNLOCK THE SECRETS OF THE PAST

FOR NEW GUESTS ON ANOTHER EPISODE OF

"FINDING YOUR ROOTS".

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