The Surprise in Cory Booker's Family Tree

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

The Root caught up with Newark, N.J. mayor Cory Booker at a screening of an episode of the new PBS series Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Booker is featured in an episode of the series where Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Root's editor-in-chief, talks the mayor through the findings of his genealogy test. His lineage was traced back to his maternal great-grandfather, who had long been a mysterious figure in the Booker family. Booker's maternal grandfather had always wondered whether or not his own father was white, and in the episode, the mayor learns that his great-grandfather was indeed a white doctor. The test also revealed that Booker is over 40 percent European. 

"I found so many histories about my family that I didn't know. It really was an incredible gift," Booker told The Root.

Booker, whose varied ancestory includes slaves, slave owners, Native Americans, and confederate soldiers, finds his unique background astonishing, calling the complexity of his heritage a "wonderful reality."

"We're more intertwined than we think," Booker said. 

The episode also features a reunion between Booker's white and black family.

Finding Your Roots airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on PBS, starting March 25. Check local listings to find it in your area.

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