Sterling K. Brown

Sterling K. Brown Wept After Discovering His Ancestors Were Enslaved

The ‘This Is Us’ star’s emotional appearance on PBS’ “Finding Your Roots” highlighted the pain that many African Americans face after learning more about their lineage.

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Emmy-winning actor Sterling K. Brown made an emotional discovery when he appeared last week on PBS’ celebrity genealogy program “Finding Your Roots.” A star of NBC’s “This Is Us,” Brown was moved to tears when he was shown that his ancestors had been in the U.S. since before the Civil War, and that his paternal fifth great-grandparents were born in Africa, according to NBC

“You know what that means,” host Henry Louis Gates Jr. said.

“It just hit me,” Brown replied. “They were slaves.”

Brown, who also starred in FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and co-starred in the 2018 “Black Panther” movie, had struggled to research his family roots on his father’s side after his father died of heart failure, when Brown was 10. He said that most of his family tree on his dad’s side was “a mystery” -- until Gates found Brown’s paternal third great grandparents in the 1900 U.S. census.

“You know in theory that you have to come from somewhere. But now you know you have real people with real names and real birthplaces,” Brown said. “It’s surreal to actually see it.”


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