Birth Name: Caryn Elaine Johnson
Place of Birth: Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Date of Birth: November 13, 1955
Ethnicity: African-American [including Guinea-Bissauan, Sierra Leonean, and Liberian]
Whoopi Goldberg is an American actress, comedian, television personality, writer, producer, activist, and singer. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Ghost (1990).
She was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in Manhattan, New York City, New York, to African-American parents, Emma (Harris), a nurse and teacher, and Robert James Johnson, Jr., a clergyman. Her daughter is actress and producer Alex Martin.
In the past, Whoopi has often stated that her mother was Jewish (Ashkenazi Jewish?), or that she has some kind of Jewish ancestry on her mother’s side, or other variations on this premise. It appears that these statements were not correct; Goldberg is a stage surname that Whoopi selected. She does not seem to have Jewish ancestry.
Whoopi’s paternal line traces back to Alex Johnson (born c. 1847) and Quilley Williams (born c. 1860), who were born into slavery, in Faceville, Georgia.
Whoopi’s paternal grandfather was Robert Johnson (the son of John Paul Johnson and Estella/Estelle Sherman). Robert was born in Georgia. John was the son of Alex Johnson and Quilley Williams.
Whoopi’s paternal grandmother was Hattie Wilson (the daughter of Ellis Wilson and Louisa Felts). Hattie was born in Georgia. Louisa was the daughter of Dallas Felts.
Whoopi’s maternal grandfather was Malakiah “Malachi” Harris (the son of James D. Harris and Clauder/Clander Washington). Malakiah was born in Palatka, Florida. Clauder was the daughter of William Washington and Elsa Tucker.
Whoopi’s maternal grandmother was Rachel Freedman (the daughter of Emmaline Morris).
A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show African American Lives (2006) stated that Whoopi’s genetic ancestry is:
*92% Sub-Saharan African
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 Whoopi’s African DNA matches the Balanta/Bayote people of Guinea-Bissau, the Mende people of Sierra Leone, and the Kru people of Liberia.
Sources: A summary of Whoopi’s family history in In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past (2009) – http://books.google.ca
Whoopi’s father on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Eugenio Marongiu / Shutterstock.com