tamera mowry-housley gets emotional after learning about her slave ancestors on the latest episode of ‘Finding Your Roots’.
Mowry-Housley went on the show knowing little about her family tree that she is of mixed race with a black mother from the Bahamas and a white father of European descent.
Tamera Mowry-Housley tears up as she learns about 9-year-old slave ancestor
Host Henry Louis Gates Jr. told the ‘Sister, Sister’ star, “We’ll see what you are.”
The actress learned of an ancestor of her mother, Margaret Rowley, born in 1825. They found that Rolle was a slave field laborer in the “slavery-inspired” country that was shown.
Mowry-Housley, a mother of two, was saddened to learn that Rolle, then only nine years old, was listed as an enslaved person in official documents.
“You want to protect them, you want them to keep that innocence. But for Margaret, that didn’t exist,” she told Gates Jr.
Although slavery had been abolished throughout the British Empire at that time, Rolle, like other former slaves, was forced to work for the next four years for his former owners without pay.
Therefore, Rolle was not fully freed from slavery until the age of 13, Gates told Tamera.
“Wow,” said the excited 44-year-old. Gates then asked, “What do you think Margaret would have made of you?”
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Mowry-Housely initially flashes a smile before quickly appearing to hold back tears.
Mowry-Housley said, “He would be proud.” “Oh, no question, he’d be proud,” Gates replied.
Tamera Mowry-Housley gets emotional after learning about her enslaved ancestors on ‘Finding Your Roots’
Uncovering one’s past can lead to emotional discoveries, and in the latest episode of Finding Your Roots, Tamera Mowry-Housley faces a… https://t.co/o3K4Jw84ej pic.twitter.com/UDTc5cdzqg
— Leonard Y (@LeonardYoung302) April 6, 2023
The actress reflects on how the ancients faced slavery and how they reacted upon gaining freedom
She continued: “But you just feel (sadly) she had to go as a child,” says the actor. “I wonder what she was doing to avoid her current situation.”
The 44-year-old mother of two then wondered how Rolle might have faced slavery. As well as how he reacted to finally getting his freedom.
“Then, to finally be free … (I wonder) how it felt, that first breath,” she said.
Mowry-Housley learned that her family’s ancestors were linked to an important historical event. Several members of Margaret Rolle’s family were likely owned by a British baron named John Rolle.
Enslaved people rebelled against John Rowley in 1830 in an event known as Pompey’s Rebellion.
In an exclusive “Finding Your Roots” clip shared with TODAY, Tamera Mowry-Housley learns that her 13th great-grandfather, William Brewster, was an English religious leader who became one of the passengers of the Mayflower in 1620. https://t.co/iqbjHQ6Y81 pic.twitter.com/3h9Dw9W8Lq
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 1, 2023
Gates said that, although he did not necessarily earn his freedom, he made history by “inspiring and giving hope to generations.”
“It’s beautiful,” she replied.
Tamera says the revelation of the ancestor “lifted[the]power and moved” her.
Gates then asks her how these revelations have changed the way Mowry-Housley sees herself.
“You know when you always say, ‘I got it from my mom?’ Well, I’m definitely taking that line of strength and going forward. That’s what I get from all of this,” she says.
In addition, the actress also learned that one of her ancestors – William Brewster – was an English religious leader who became one of the Mayflower passengers in 1620. This prompted Mowry-Housley to reflect on his mixed-race heritage.
“This is what the fraternity is crazy about. I have the blood that started it and then I have the blood that it enslaved,” he said.