From Black Panther to Mayflower descendant: Angela Davis had a shocking Ancestry Revelation.
Civil rights icon and feminist activist Angela Davis, known for her Marxist views and fight for social justice, recently discovered a surprising family history.
In a jaw-dropping episode of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots,” Davis was stunned to learn that she is a direct descendant of one of the Mayflower’s original passengers, William Brewster. The revelation has left the former Black Panther and 1970s black power activist reflecting on the intersection of her radical beliefs and her unexpected ties to American history.
“Finding Your Roots” is a television series that explores the genealogy and family history of celebrities and public figures. Hosted by renowned Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., the show uses genealogical research and DNA testing to trace the ancestry of each guest and uncover surprising connections to historical events, cultures, and people.
Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. asked, “Any idea what you’re looking at?” That is a list of the passengers on the Mayflower.”
“No, I can’t believe this,” Davis said in denial. “No, my ancestors did not come here on the Mayflower.”
“Your ancestors came here on the Mayflower,” Gates replied. “You are descended from one of the 101 people who sailed on the Mayflower.”
“No. No, no, no, no,” Davis rambled. “Oof. That’s a little bit too much to deal with right now.”
“I always imagined my ancestors as the people who were enslaved,” Davis claimed. “My mind and my heart are swirling with all of these contradictory emotions.”
The show aims to promote a greater understanding of the diverse backgrounds and shared history of Americans and people around the world. The show has aired on PBS since 2012 and has featured a wide range of notable guests, including politicians, actors, musicians, and athletes.
“Do you know what you’re looking at? That is a list of the passengers on the Mayflower.”
— Henry Louis Gates Jr (@HenryLouisGates) February 22, 2023
Davis gained national attention in the 1960s as a member of the Communist Party USA and an active supporter of the Black Panther Party. She became a leading voice in the movement for prison abolition and was famously imprisoned for 18 months on charges of murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy in connection with a courthouse shootout in Marin County, California, in 1970.
After her release from prison, Davis continued her activism and became a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has written several books on topics such as race, gender, and incarceration, including “Women, Race, and Class” and “Are Prisons Obsolete?”