Finding Your Roots! Gifted Storytellers


"Gifted Storytellers"

Season 2 Premiere September 23, 2014 8pm PBS
Episode 3
 Henry Louis Gates

The Book of Life




Anderson Cooper ~ Anna Deavere Smith ~ Ken Burns

What a Episode! Has to be my personal favorite so far! 
I'm tempted to do all 3 guests. 
I'll start with Anderson Cooper! What  a Story!   

We all know Anderson from CNN who is a Investigative reporter and Anchor. What a job to have when you actually do Genealogy work. They seem to go hand in hand. This would be perfect for him. I was quite surprised about him not knowing too much on  his family history more? He has been Globe trotting around the World and he didn't think to much about his own family history?
His Mother Gloria Vanderbilt. Well, we all have at one time or another had our Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in our life. My obsession starting with the jeans in the 80's. If you didn't have GV Jeans or a pair of Jordache something was wrong with you.

I was also quite shocked to learn that Anderson had 'Bamma roots. I have always associated him with Mississippi.

So that is what sparked my interest in him, his 'Bama roots and Ms. Gloria.
It all started for Anderson is when he saw, and felt loss. Over his  father's heart attack, then his brother dying over suicide.
He wanted to go somewhere. He ended up going overseas. To be able to deal with loss and survival to understand it from where people were suffering which helped him understand his own grief.
Anderson's family was all over the south, Mississippi, Georgia and the one I found most interesting was in Alabama.
A Mr. Burwell Boykin.......
He had 12 slaves in Choctaw County, Alabama in 1850. 3 hours East of my Ancestral home of Bullock County, Alabama.  He owned 12 Slaves.

Upon Anderson learning, he says it's so depressing. It is a nightmare to me. 
Dr. Gates asks him what did he think his relation to his Slaves are like? 
Anderson: "I shudder to think" was his response. 
Dr. Gates tells Anderson his relative was killed by a Slave with a farm hoe!
I 'bout fell off my stool.
Anderson didn't want to offend his family. I'm glad he thought like most African Americans. He questioned what about the rebellious slave and his family? I'm more worried what happened to him he says.
Believe me, I think the Slave got his revenge for whatever reason. Wonder what the Courthouse Records say or the local newspaper at the time?
 The Song comes to mind for me... and Before I die a Slave, I'll be buried in my Grave!
 Sending you to trial without a hearing and numerous things that are unaccounted for in records that they did to us, to let us know their Property wasn't worth a lick every time they got a chance even for just no reason or rhyme. May his Soul rest.
Choctaw County Courthouse

I was also impressed that Anderson wanted to know the name of the Slave and the 11 other's with No Names. 
Dr. Gates asked him if there was anybody who could come and sit and talk with him who would it be?
Anderson said: His Dad. 
He wanted to ask him what he thought of himself (Anderson) and all that is going on now in the World? 

I'd be asking my Daddie too if he was here. We talked several times a day and nightly. It was a ritual to talk about history and the events of the day. I miss those calls dearly. 

Anna Deavere Smith!

Her story was Amazing! I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. Gettysburg was in the backdrop of my Life.
It was always a wind a way. I have been there several times. It's funny how you live right by History and you don't "See" the impact and worthiness of it until it's highlighted and focused on like a program, Finding Your Roots.


Slaves burying the Dead at Gettysburg



Basil Biggs! My man! Who I consider the 1st Black Coroner of Gettysburg. The Colored Undertaker!
Basil Biggs Resting Place 

Sons of Good Will Cemetery / Lincoln Cemetery

Mr. Basil Biggs formed this cemetery due to the fact the Black Troops couldn't be buried at Gettysburg Cemetery because of segregation and also to buy him some farmland. 

Conductor of the Underground Railroad. Helping runaway slaves. 

During my many visits to Gettysburg, I never knew about Basil Biggs. He got paid 1.25 for each exhumed Union Soldier for re burial.  Now; when I think back on the tours I have taken by walk or by car with a cassette tape. I remember the most of the Park Ranger telling us why the "Hallowed Ground" dirt was "Red". It was from all the Blood that was shed. That stood out the most to me.
 One single man, Basil Biggs was responsible for all those lined manicured headstones. He deserves so much more than a footnote in History. My Heart and Thanks goes out to him. Anna Deverere Smith, you got some Granddaddy there! Thanks to Dr. Gates for sharing him with us all. One more reason to be Proud of our Service to this Country while being oppressed.

Go to the link below to find out more about Gettysburg!





Ken Burns!
WoW is all I can say. I'm telling you this Episode really was my favorite! We all are entertained about his love for History, the Documentaries he has displayed over the years at PBS. He was made to do this. 
I watched and it came from his Mother, Lyla Tucker. She died when he was 2. That is where he was shaped for "Storytelling".
He wanted to know the most about his last name of "Burns". I am too. Lewis is my brick wall. I'm always on the hunt for Granddaddy James E. Lewis from Houston County, Ga.
I do find it ironic as well. His career is based on, He "wakes" the Dead, just like us Genealogist / Family Historians Do! 
He had 2 Grandfather's on both sides of The Civil War. 
I loved the fact he had 2 Grandfather's named Abraham. His line: It still hurts, 2 Abraham's to Boot! at that; cracked me up. Which is understandable knowing his obsession with Abraham Lincoln. He does find out President Lincoln is his 5th Cousin 4 times removed! Laughable and pleased at the same time. I know that had meaning for him.
President Abraham Lincoln, 1863.


Another moment when he raised the fact. you have to ACCEPT your family. Its just not something you can't UNDO!
That is the way I think of my Ancestors no matter what walk in Life they took. I accept them. Over time one has to come to that conclusion. I accepted that when I first started doing Genealogy.
My favorite line from Ken Burns which summed the whole episode up was when they said:

"Genealogy "Giveth"! and Genealogy "Taketh" away!

It sure Does. So True! 
Use #FindingYourRoots on Twitter every Tuesday!

Until next time, Best Regards, True!


Full Episode of Finding Your Roots "Storytellers"

















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