Jon Batiste Uncovers The Powerful Way His Ancestor Became a Voter | Finding Your Roots

Family History
30 June 2023
by Ancestry® Team

Ancestry® is proud to support Finding Your Roots on PBS.

Grammy-winner Jon Batiste discovers how his third great-grandfather, a formerly enslaved man named Sam Curtis, physically left his mark as a newly registered voter under the Reconstruction Acts on PBS’s Finding Your Roots.

“Band leader Jon Batiste is steeped in the traditions of New Orleans, where his family has been musical royalty for generations. But we uncovered an inspiring story that took Jon to a place he’d never associated with himself. Jon’s third-great-grandfather, a man named Sam Curtis, was born in rural Georgia around 1830.

“Sam spent the first three decades of his life in slavery, and when freedom came, he did something remarkable. He registered to vote, signing his name with an X because, like most formerly enslaved people. Sam was illiterate—as it was illegal to teach enslaved people to read and to write.”

Watch the video to learn more.

Watch all new episodes of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Tuesdays at 8/7c on PBS. Learn more or check your local PBS listings.