Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. with James Crowley and President Barack Obama
Photo: Getty Images
Oprah was one of the first celebrities to trace her family's roots for the groundbreaking PBS series African American Lives. After taking a DNA test in 2006, Oprah discovered that her ancestry dates back to the Kpelle, an African ethnic group that once lived in the country we now call Liberia.

The man who led her down this path of self-discovery was Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., a Harvard professor and pioneer in the field of genealogy. "I've got to say, when it happened to me, it was absolutely empowering to know the journey of my entire family," Oprah says.

For decades, Dr. Gates says he's been fascinated by family trees, but in July 2009, he made national headlines for something other than his research.

After a confrontation with a police officer at his Cambridge, Massachusetts, home, Dr. Gates was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct. His arrest sparked a racially fueled national uproar, which led to the first-ever White House Beer Summit.
FROM: Celebs Dig Up Their Family Secrets
Published on March 09, 2010

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