Ben Carson

by follers on November 7, 2014

Birth Name: Benjamin Solomon Carson

Place of Birth: Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Date of Birth: September 18, 1951

Ethnicity: African-American

Ben Carson is an American author and retired neurosurgeon. He has been the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, since March 2, 2017.

He was a candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States in 2016.

Ben is the son of African-American parents, Sonya (Copeland) and Robert Solomon Carson, a Christian minister. In 1987, he became the first person to successfully surgically separate conjoined twins joined at the head. He is married to author and businessperson Candy Carson, with whom he has three children.

Ben’s paternal grandfather was Robert Carson (the son of Robert Carson and Amy Darden). Ben’s grandfather Robert was born in Georgia. Ben’s great-grandmother Amy was the daughter of Ethan Darden and Lettie Swan.

Ben’s paternal grandmother was named Anna/Amy L. Gordon. Anna was born in Georgia.

Ben’s maternal grandfather was John Martin Copeland (the son of John H. Copeland and Indiana Ash). Ben’s grandfather John was born in Georgia. Indiana was the daughter of Thomas Ash and Millie Gay. The 1870 U.S. Census lists a man named James Ash living near Indiana’s household, who was possibly her grandfather. James is then-listed as being 100 years old, and as having been born in Africa (c. 1770).

Ben’s maternal grandmother was Ruby Stanley (the daughter of Coleman Stanley and Lucy Smith). Ruby was born in Georgia. Lucy was the daughter of Green Smith and Emily.

A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show African American Lives (2006) stated that Ben’s genetic ancestry is:

*80% Sub-Saharan African
*20% European

In his 2009 book about the show, In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote that Ben’s African DNA matches the Makua people of Mozambique (through his father’s line), and on his mother’s side, the Yoruba, Bassa, and Edo people of Nigeria, the Mende people of Sierra Leone, the Turkana people of Kenya, the Bamileke people of Cameroon, and the Bantu tribes of the Congo-Angola region.

Sources: Family background of Ben Carson –

Genealogy of Ben Carson –

Ben’s father on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Photo by Gage Skidmore


Don Cheadle

by ethnic on July 20, 2010

Don Cheadle

Birth Name: Donald Frank Cheadle, Jr.

Place of Birth: Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.

Date of Birth: November 29, 1964

Ethnicity: African-American

Don Cheadle is an American actor, writer, producer, and director. He is the son of African-American parents, Bettye (North), a teacher, and Donald Frank Cheadle, a clinical psychologist. He has two children with his partner, actress Bridgid Coulter.

Don plays James Rhodes / War Machine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Don’s paternal grandfather was Lee Therman Cheadle (the son of William M. Cheadle and Maggie/Odie Lewis). Lee was born in Oklahoma. William was the son of Henderson Hence Cheadle and Mary Kemp. Maggie was the daughter of Henry Lewis and Caroline.

Don’s paternal grandmother was Cynthia Barnes (the daughter of Joseph Smith Barnes and Clennie Carroll). Cynthia was born in Missouri.

Don’s maternal grandfather was Basil Leon/W. North, Sr. (the son of Horace P./Marion North and Rachel S. Kenoly). Basil was born in Missouri. Horace was the son of John Ralls. Rachel was the daughter of Myers Kenoly and Mary Mathilda, who were born into slavery.

Don’s maternal grandmother was named Louisa/Louise Maretta “Louie” Thompkins (the daughter of Rochel Turner). Louisa was born in Missouri.

A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show African American Lives 2 (2008) stated that Don’s genetic ancestry is:

*81% Sub-Saharan African
*19% European

In his 2009 book about the show, In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote that 45% of Don’s African DNA matches Benin and western Nigeria, including specifically the Ewondo, Bamileke, Masa, and Tikar people, 30% matches Upper Guinea (Senegal to Liberia), and 25% matches the Congo-Angola region.

Sources: Clip of Don’s appearance on African American Lives 2 (2008) –

Genealogy of Don Cheadle –

Don’s paternal grandfather, Lee Therman Cheadle, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Don’s paternal grandmother, Cynthia Barnes, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Don’s maternal grandfather, Basil Leon/W. North, Sr., on the 1910 U.S. Census –

photo by Prphotos


Chris Tucker

by ethnic on May 1, 2010

Chris Tucker

Birth Name: Christopher Tucker

Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

Date of Birth: August 31, 1971

Ethnicity: African-American

Chris Tucker is an American actor and stand-up comedian. He was born to African-American parents.

Chris’s paternal grandparents are Deacon Charlie Sims and Sara.

Chris’s maternal grandfather is Theodore Arthur Bryant, Jr. (the son of Theodore Arthur Bryant, Sr. and Zudie Waits). Chris’s great-grandfather Theodore was the son of Spencer Bryant and Mary Ann Shoemaker. Zudie was the daughter of Henry Crawford Waits and Ella King.

Chris’s maternal grandmother is Flora B. Robinson (the daughter of John Robinson and Mary Harris). John was the son of Joseph Robinson and Sarah De Lamar/DeLamar. Mary was the daughter of Daniel Harris and Flora Allen.

A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show African American Lives (2006) stated that Chris’s genetic ancestry is:

*83% Sub-Saharan African
*10% Native American
*7% European

In his 2009 book about the show, In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote that Chris’s African DNA matches the Mbundu people of Angola, the Basa people of Nigeria, the Ewondo/Bamileke people Cameroon, the Biaka/Mbenzele people of the Central African Republic, and the Chwabo people of Mozambique.

Sources: Obituary of Chris’s father –

Genealogy of Chris Tucker (focusing on his mother’s side) –

photo by Prphotos


Erykah Badu

by ethnic on April 6, 2010

Erykah Badu

Birth Name: Erica Abi Wright

Place of Birth: Dallas, Texas, U.S.

Date of Birth: February 26, 1971

Ethnicity: African-American [including Cameroonian]

Erykah Badu is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, disc jockey, activist, and actress. She is known for her soulful style of music, often labeled as nu soul or neo soul. She has worked with artists like The Roots, Common, and D’Angelo.

Erykah has a son with rapper, actor, and record producer André 3000; a daughter with rapper The D.O.C.; and a daughter with hip hop recording artist and record producer Jay Electronica.

Information about Erykah’s DNA testing can be found here and here. Her genetic ancestry includes roots in the Bamileke people of Cameroon.

Photo by Prphotos


Oprah Winfrey

by ethnic on June 5, 2009

Birth Name: Orpah Gail Winfrey

Place of Birth: Kosciusko, Mississippi, U.S.

Date of Birth: January 29, 1954

Ethnicity: African-American [including Kpelle, Bamileke, and Zambian]

Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is regarded as one of the most influential women in the world, and possibly the wealthiest African-American of the 20th century. She was the host of The Oprah Winfrey Show from 1986 to 2011.

Oprah’s parents, Vernon Winfrey and Vernita Lee, are both black. Her partner is author and public speaker Stedman Graham. Her birth name is Orpah, after the biblical figure, in the Book of Ruth. She uses the name Oprah, as people usually mispronounced it that way.

Oprah’s story is a rags-to-riches one. She was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to a single teenage mother. She herself became pregnant at the age of fourteen. Unfortunately, her baby died soon after birth. Despite her beginnings, Oprah finished school and received a scholarship into Tennessee State University, where she studied communications. She gave birth prematurely at age fourteen, to a son, Canaan, who died shortly after. At the age of seventeen, Oprah won the Miss Black Tennessee Beauty Pageant.

A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show African American Lives (2006) stated that Oprah’s genetic ancestry is:

*89% Sub-Saharan African
*8% Native American
*3% East Asian

“East Asian” may refer to more Native American roots. It is not clear if these lineages have been verified/documented genealogically. The same DNA test stated that Oprah has ancestry from the Kpelle people (from what is now Liberia), the Bamileke people (from Cameroon), and a Bantu-speaking tribe (from Zambia).

Oprah’s paternal grandfather was Elmore Winfrey (the son of Sanford Elias Winfrey and Ella Staples). Elmore was born in Mississippi. Sanford was the son of Constantine Winfrey, who was born a slave, in Georgia, and of Violet A. Nunn, who was also born a slave, in North Carolina. Constantine likely took his surname from a slave owner, Absalom F. Winfrey. Oprah’s great-grandmother Ella was the daughter of William Staples and Abigail Howard.

Oprah’s paternal grandmother was Beatrice Woods (the daughter of Thomas/Tom W. Woods and Hattie Ross). Beatrice was born in Mississippi. Thomas was the son of Monroe Woods and Henrietta. Hattie was the daughter of Simon Ross and Katie.

Oprah’s maternal grandfather was Earless/Earlist/Erlisst Lee (the son of Harold/Harry Lee and Elizabeth). Earless was born in Mississippi. Harold was born a slave in Mississippi. He was the son of John Lee and Grace.

Oprah’s maternal grandmother was Hattie Mae Presley/Pressley (the daughter of Nelson/Milton Alexander Presley/Pressley and Amanda Winters). Hattie was born in Mississippi. Amanda was the daughter of Pearce Winters and Henrietta.

A farmer named Noah Robinson, Sr. has stated that he is Oprah’s biological father. It is not clear if this claim has been investigated in any detail.

Sources: Genealogies of Oprah Winfrey –

The Guardian article on DNA tests among African-Americans, 2006 –

Helga Esteb /