Viola Davis’ Family History is a Testament to Survival and Hope – Finding Your Roots

Family History, Lifestyle
1 February 2023
by Ancestry® Team

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

Despite the hardships her family endured, Viola Davis chooses to focus on the incredible odds they overcame. Join Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as he reveals her extraordinary family story.

“I’m seeing myself for the first time. I’m seeing the expansiveness of my history.”

Actor Viola Davis was born in rural South Carolina, where her roots stretched back over a century and hidden within those roots is an extraordinary story.

Viola’s great-great-grandfather, Emmanuel Howell, was born into slavery in South Carolina sometime around 1840. During the Civil War, Emmanuel’s owner, a man named John Pauling, compelled him to accompany his son into the army, meaning that Emmanuel was forced to serve the Confederacy….

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.