Roots of African-American History

Harvard professor traces ancestry in 'African-American National Biography.'

ByABC News via logo
February 18, 2009, 6:13 PM

Feb. 26, 2008— -- Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard professor and co-editor of the "African American National Biography," joins "Good Morning, America" Wednesday in honor of black history month.

The project illuminates the influence of African-Americans on life in the United States, from the arrival of Esteban in Spanish Florida in 1529 to the life of notable black citizens of the present day.

Tune in to watch Gates share stories from his new book.

The eight-volume set covers a broader range of African American lives than ever before, presenting history through a mosaic of the lives of 4,100 individuals, some known throughout the world and others all but forgotten.

Along with Evelyn Higginbotham, Gates compiled thousands of entries, written and signed by distinguished scholars, hoping to represent the scope of African-Americans through the immediacy of personal experiences.

"These stories, long buried in the dusty archives of history, will never be lost again. And that is what scholarship in the field of African-American studies should be all about," said Gates, who also hosts the PBS television series "African American Lives."

Celebrities who've participated include Chris Rock, Tina Turner, Maya Angelou, Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Linda Johnson Rice, Peter Gomes and many more.

Click here to visit the website of "African American Lives."

Click here to visit and get started tracing your own roots.