Is There a Mexican President in My Black Family Tree?

Tracing Your Roots: A family legend includes assassination, a daring escape and love across cultures.

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Finally, we encourage you to take a test to analyze your autosomal DNA. This will reveal your percentages of various geographical ancestries, including Native American, sub-Saharan African, European and, within European, various subregions. Mexicans, on average, have much higher percentages of Native American ancestry than either white or black Americans. A high percentage of Native American ancestry would tend to confirm the stories passed down in your family, or at least suggest that someone from Mexico, even if not a president or his descendant, is on your family tree!

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and founding director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Send your questions about tracing your own roots to

This answer was provided in consultation with Eileen Pironti, a researchers from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Founded in 1845, NEHGS is the country’s leading nonprofit resource for family history research. Its website,, contains more than 300 million searchable records for research in New England, New York and beyond. With the leading experts in the field, NEHGS staff can provide assistance and guidance for questions in most research areas. They can also be hired to conduct research on your family. Learn more today.

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