Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates is using both DNA and standard genealogical inquiries to research the ancestry of various celebrities. Now Gates has an article in The Root about New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell’s genealogy.
Gladwell has mixed ancestry: English on his father’s side, Northwest European, Jewish, and middle class mulatto on his Jamaican mother’s side. Growing up in Canada, Gladwell never experienced any significant racial issues. However, he always assumed that some of his Jamaican ancestors had been slaves at some time in history.
Gates discovered that Gladwell was wrong. He wrote in an article in The Root:
In the end, we failed to find a single slave in Malcolm’s Jamaican ancestry. What’s more, we found a stunning instance of the opposite: black slave owners on the family tree. …
This means that Malcolm’s fifth-great-grandmother, a free woman of color, owned slaves. She even spelled one of them out by name, leaving her slave “Ruthie” to her grandson, Malcolm’s third-great-grandfather Benjamin Samuel Levy, another free man of color.
“Oh my goodness,” said Malcolm, stunned. “The kind of mental jujitsu you have to go through is quite remarkable."
You can read more at http://www.theroot.com/views/malcolm-gladwells-elusive-roots?page=0,1