Wanda Sykes’ Unexpected Family History

On PBS' Finding Your Roots, the comedian learns of her ancestors' early emancipation.


A surprise lay hidden within historical documents of comedian Wanda Sykes’ ancestors — a surprise that even Sykes herself couldn’t fathom. Sykes joined The Root’s editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr., on his PBS show Finding Your Roots to investigate the lives of what she thought were her slave ancestors.

After scouring archives in Virginia, Gates made an unpredictable discovery about her great-great-great-grandparents.

“I had no idea that, you know, I came from free people,” Sykes said after the reveal. “They must have been some incredibly strong and incredibly proud people.”

Watch a clip of Sykes on Finding Your Roots below. Catch the full episode to find out all of Gates’ findings on Sunday, May 13, at 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. CDT on PBS.

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