After learning what he could from dusty record books, Emmitt took the next step in his genealogical journey and had a DNA test.

The results showed him that he's 81 percent African, 12 percent European and 7 percent Asian, which is most likely Native American ancestry.

Emmitt's journey has come to an end, but he encourages anyone who's curious about their roots to follow in his footsteps. "You must go do this yourself," he says. "It's extremely important. It's critical. It will help shape your vision in terms of how you go forward. It will also help you appreciate your past."

Lisa Kudrow's genealogical quest

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. on starting your ancestry search


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