As a guest on PBS show Finding Your Roots, Angela Davis — Civil Rights activist, philosopher and author — learned a surprising fact about her ancestry.
According to Salon, the former Black Panther sought out answers to burning questions about her maternal grandparents side of the family. As her mother grew up in a foster home, Davis didn’t know important facts about her roots.
Instead, host Henry Louis Gates Jr. presented the 79-year-old with results that left her shocked.
“You are descended from one of the 101 people who sailed on the Mayflower,” Gates said while giving Davis a manifest revealing the name of her 10th great-grandfather.
“No, I can’t believe this. My ancestors did not come here on the Mayflower,” she said, unconvinced. “That’s a little too much to deal with right now.”
Questioning Davis’ response, Gates asked, “Would you ever in your wildest dreams think that you may have been descended from the people who laid the foundation of this country?” to which she responded, “Never, never, never, never, never.” See clip below.
Still in disbelief, Gates then revealed her 10th great-grandfather to be a man name William Brewster, an English-born decedent from Davis’ father’s side. Per Gates, Brewster was one of the first settlers in America.
Per outlet, Davis did not get many answers about her maternal ancestry, but was able to find out the name of a maternal grandfather – a white lawyer named John Austin Darden.
“He has my mother’s lips,” Davis said as she observed a photo of him. “It’s so funny, I can see her in him.”
Check out the clip of Angela Y. Davis finding out her ancestral history above, and the full episode here.