Tamera Mowry-Housley became quite emotional after learning of her enslaved ancestors in the latest episode of ‘Finding Your Roots.’
Mowry-Housley went into the show knowing very little of her family tree beyond that she is of mixed race with a Black mother from the Bahamas and a White father of European descent.
Tamera Mowry-Housley Tears Up Learning About Enslaved 9-Year-Old Ancestor
“We’re going to see what you are,” host Henry Louis Gates Jr. told the ‘Sister, Sister’ star.
The actress learned about one ancestor on her mother’s side, Margaret Rolle, born in 1825. She discovered Rolle was an enslaved field laborer in a country “driven by slavery,” the show uncovered.
A mother-of-two, Mowry-Housley was saddened to learn that Rolle, then only nine years old, had been listed as an enslaved person on official documents.
“You want to protect them, you want them to keep that innocence. But for Margaret, that did not exist,” she told Gates Jr.
Although slavery had been abolished throughout the British Empire at the time, Rolle, like other formerly enslaved people, was forced to work for the next four years for their former owners without any pay.
Therefore, Rolle wasn’t entirely freed of slavery until she was around 13 years old, Gates told Tamera.
“Wow,” the exasperated 44-year-old said. Gates then asked, “What do you think Margaret would’ve made of you?”
“She’d Be Proud” To See Her Ancestors Now Mowry-Housely Emotionally Says
Mowry-Housley initially flashes a smile before quickly appearing to hold back tears.
“She’d be proud,” Mowry-Housley said. “Oh, no question, she would be proud,” Gates responded.
Tamera Mowry-Housley Gets Emotional After Learning About Her Enslaved Ancestors On ‘Finding Your Roots’
Uncovering one’s past can lead to emotional discoveries, and on the latest episode of Finding Your Roots, Tamera Mowry-Housely was confronted with a… https://t.co/o3K4Jw84ej pic.twitter.com/UDTc5cdzqg
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Actress Ponders How Ancestor Coped With Slavery And How She Reacted Upon Gaining Freedom
She continued: “But you just feel (sad that) she had to go through that as a child,” the actor adds. “I wonder what she went through to escape her current situation.”
The 44-year-old mother-of-two then contemplated how Rolle might’ve coped with slavery. As well as how she reacted upon finally gaining her freedom.
“Then, to finally be free … (I wonder) what that felt like, that first breath,” she said.
Mowry-Housley learned that her family’s ancestors were tied to a significant historical event. Several of Margaret Rolle’s family members were likely owned by a British baron named John Rolle.
Enslaved people rebelled against John Rolle in 1830 in an event known as Pompey’s Revolt.
In an exclusive “Finding Your Roots” clip shared with TODAY, Tamera Mowry-Housley discovers that her 13th great-grandfather, William Brewster, was an English religious leader who went on to become one of the passengers on the Mayflower in 1620. https://t.co/iqbjHQ6Y81 pic.twitter.com/3h9Dw9W8Lq
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While they didn’t necessarily earn their freedom, they did make a place in history by “providing inspiration and hope for generations,” Gates said.
“That’s beautiful,” she replied.
Tamera Says Ancestor Revelations Showed Her “The Strength (Of) Picking Up And Carrying On”
Gates then asks her how these revelations change the way Mowry-Housley sees herself.
“You know when you always say, ‘I got it from my mama?’ Well, I definitely see that line of strength picking up and carrying on. That’s what I get out of all of this,” she says.
Furthermore, the actress also learned that another one of her ancestors — William Brewster — was an English religious leader who became one of the Mayflower passengers in 1620. This prompted Mowry-Housley to reflect on her mixed-race heritage.
“This is what’s crazy about being biracial. I have blood that started it and then I have blood that was enslaved by it,” she said.