Reveals Roots of MLK and Marcus Garvey

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s roots are in Africa and Europe.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s roots are in Africa and Europe.

Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey and civil rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have a lot in common —  both of their paternal ancestries trace to Europe, and their maternal ancestries connect them directly to Africa. While it is common knowledge that African Americans and West Indians have European and African lineage, it is just recently, with the advances in DNA technology, that people are able to learn their specific regional and national roots.

Advertisement recently learned of the roots of the iconic men through the use of DNA from their children, specifically Martin Luther King III and Dr. Julius Garvey. For the King family, the results support the paper trail that has been followed over the years. Dr. King's paternal side traces to Ireland. They were also able to discover that Coretta Scott King shared ancestry with the Mend people of Sierra Leone.

Garvey's lineage traced to Portugal and Spain in Europe on his paternal side and present-day Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Senegal on his maternal side. "One test can reveal the lineage of an entire family," said Gina Paige, co-founder of

"It is actually not uncommon for paternal lineages of African Americans to trace to Europe because of the number of white male slave owners fathering children with enslaved African women," said Dr. Rick Kittles, co-founder and scientific director for Thankfully, that's common knowledge — i.e., old news — to black folks. Whatever the case, knowing where you're actually from never gets old. 

Read more about the African ancestry of other notables.

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