Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, drummer for Grammy-winning group The Roots, has found his own, and they’re in Alabama.
In this week’s episode of PBS’s “Finding Your Roots,” host Henry Louis Gates Jr. reveals to Questlove that his ancestors were on the last known slave ship ever to come to the United States, destination: Mobile.
Questlove’s third great-grandparents, Charles and Maggie Lewis, were bought from the Kingdom of Dahomey (modern-day Benin) and smuggled into the United States illegally. The transatlantic slave trade to America had already been outlawed for over 50 years.
Along with more than 100 of their fellow Africans, Charlie and Maggie arrived in Mobile Bay in July of 1860 on a schooner called Clotilde. They and others settled Africatown, a village just west of the Mobile River.
Gates said the revelations about Questlove’s African ancestors amount to more than any African-American he has ever met.
“Every African-American that we know wants to know where in Africa they came from and then how they came here,” Gates told Questlove. “You are the only African-American I’ve ever met who can name the ship.”
“I’m on the absolute last ship that ever came here,” said a stunned Questlove.
“I feel sad, I feel angered, I feel confused, I feel lucky.”
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