Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do You Know Who You Are?

Friday nights are Family Night around here. For the last two weeks, we hung out together watching

We have found a new family favorite!  The conversations it has generated have been priceless. My kids are asking about their ancestors, they are putting together our family history with what was going on in the world at the same time, and they are connecting with the things they learn in textbooks on a hugely personal level.  We've talked about racism, slavery, prejudice, hardship, perseverance and all kinds of other wonderful topics. The kids have asked when the next one is on and I even spent an hour hanging with Dr. D showing him a quick chart of what I know about all four of my grandparents' family lines.

Closely connected to the new NBC show, is a wonderful PBS gem I found called

It features Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and takes guests through little journeys of American history as they also discover their family stories and how they fit into the bigger story that America was building at that same time. It's a slightly more academic look at how America came to be, but certainly no less entertaining and captivating for THIS history buff! I recorded his appearance on Opr@h a couple weeks ago and finally got to watch it yesterday while I was laying around sick.  I found it IMMENSELY interesting that the officer who arrested Gates in last year's incident that led to the infamous "Beer Summit" shares a family name and geographic region with my grandfather's family. AND that both that officer AND Gates are distantly related via an ancient clan king in Ireland.  Mmmmmm, might we be related to America's foremost African American scholar?  Which, I guess would also mean that we were related to the officer, too. And you know what, I'm totally intrigued by either idea!

If you haven't seen these new shows, you really ought to check them out. Even if you don't care a lick about "where you came from" (which in my honest opinion would be a CRYING SHAME, almost a sacrilege!), I do think that you will find great inspiration in the stories of the strong, determined, self-sacrificing people who formed our nation. And maybe, just maybe, you'll come away from these shows with a greater appreciation for who you are and what your people have come through to make you who you are.


Salzwedel Family said...

Sounds like a winner. I will have to check it out.

I would love to know more about my family history. It's a bit difficult for me because a whole piece of my past is missing. I only met my birth father once and know absolutely nothing about his side of the family or my ancestry on that side. I was told my either great or great-great grandmother was full blooded Native American, but I wouldn't even know where to start to find out more.

Aus said...

We'll have to check them out - history - including our family - has always been a passion of mine! Did you ever read teh John Jakes novels about the founding of the US? I think it's like 8 books - and kind of a long read - but they were worth every second! (Back in the late 70's and early 80's they were actually used in college history classes as 'extra reading' - and beat a text book by far!)

PS - my code word for this comment is 'knowin' - know in - kind of important eh?

hugs - aus and co.

Territory Mom said...

Absolutely love both shows. This is a great way for kids to study history and their family tree. This is wild I was checking out how to become a certified genealogist. Great post.

heidi @ ggip said...

Awesome. I mean to watch those shows. I hope I remember sometime.