On Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr., entertainers Maya Rudolph, Shonda Rhimes, and Keenen Ivory Wayans discover how their ancestors struggled for freedom. All of the stories are heartbreaking. Rudolph weeps when she sees her great-great-grandfather’s name included on a slave census. He was only five years old at the time. And Wayans is surprised to learn that his great-great-grandfather, Ben Pleasant, was the personal servant to the governor of South Carolina, John Manning .
During a trip with Manning in the 1840s, Pleasant was kidnapped by a group of zealous abolitionists in Canada to free him. But Pleasant didn’t remain free for long. With his family still in slavery, he returned to South Carolina to be with them. It’s an unbelievably heart-wrenching revelation — that any man would ever have to make a choice like that. Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr. airs Tuesdays at 8pm on PBS.