NEW YORK — In February 2006, the acclaimed PBS series African American Lives brought to the forefront of national consciousness the powerful process of discovering one’s family history. A Roots for the 21st century, the series made a deep cultural impact through its riveting use of DNA analysis, genealogical research and family oral tradition to trace the lineages of highly accomplished African Americans down through U.S. history and back to Africa.
One year later, Oprah’s Roots further crystallized and propelled America’s interest in family tree research through the powerful stories of Oprah Winfrey’s ancestors and their accomplishments.
Now, you too are invited to participate in the newest African American Lives project. The producers of African American Lives 2 are seeking an African American to join Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and an all-new group of distinguished African Americans on an extraordinary journey of discovery. The series is tentatively scheduled to air on PBS in February 2008.
“What we find in doing this research is that even a regular person has extraordinary stories within his or her family,” says Professor Gates. “In African American Lives 2, we’ll work with one such person to show that the technology and resources for discovering these stories are available to all Americans, especially those of African descent.”
Under the supervision of Professor Gates, the series’ research will be conducted by the eminent genealogists Tony Burroughs, Johni Cerny, Jane Ailes and Megan Smolenyak together with Ancestry.com, one of the world’s leading online resources for family history information. They’ll research the selected individual’s family history, while a DNA testing service will provide a genetic analysis. The results of both will be revealed, along with that of the other series participants, by Professor Gates on the PBS broadcast of African American Lives 2.
HOW TO ENTER
Beginning April 18th, interested individuals must apply online at www.pbs.org/aalives. Online applications must be received by 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 4, 2007. Any applications submitted after this date and time will not be considered. Finalists will receive a one-year subscription to Ancestry.com. The winning applicant will be notified and announced the week of May 28, 2007. Please note that the following are not eligible to participate: employees, and their relatives, of PBS, the series’ producers (Thirteen/WNET, Kunhardt Productions, and Inkwell Films) and corporate sponsors (The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson and General Motors).
In addition to their name, age, gender, and contact information, applicants will be asked to tell the judges about themselves and their family, and why they would make the ideal candidate for the series.
Upon submitting the online application, individuals will receive an e-mail confirmation with a unique identification number. Applicants must attach this number along with their name to a photograph of themselves and mail it to: African American Lives 2, 305 West Broadway, Suite 144, New York, NY 10013. Photographs must be postmarked no later than Monday, May 7. Applications are not complete until the production team receives an individual’s photograph.
Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional funding is provided by General Motors.
African American Lives 2 is a co-production of Thirteen/WNET New York, Kunhardt Productions and Inkwell Films. Graham Judd is series producer; Dyllan McGee is senior producer for Kunhardt Productions. Executive producers are Henry Louis Gates Jr., William R. Grant and Peter W. Kunhardt.
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