According to Salon, the former Black Panther wanted answers to pressing questions concerning her maternal grandparents. Davis had no idea about her ancestors because her mother had grown up in a foster household. Instead, host Henry Louis Gates Jr. presented the 79-year-old with shocking results.
“You are descended from one of the 101 people who sailed on the Mayflower,” Gates said while giving Davis a manifest revealing the name of her 10th great-grandfather.
“No, I can’t believe this. My ancestors did not come here on the Mayflower,” she said, unconvinced. “That’s a little too much to deal with right now.”
Questioning Davis’ response, Gates asked, “Would you ever in your wildest dreams think that you may have been descended from the people who laid the foundation of this country?” to which she responded, “Never, never, never, never, never.”
Still in disbelief, Gates then revealed her 10th great-grandfather to be a man name William Brewster, an English-born decedent from Davis’ father’s side.
According to Gates, Brewster was one of the first settlers in America.
Davis did not get many answers about her maternal ancestry, but was able to find out the name of a maternal grandfather – a white lawyer named John Austin Darden.
“He has my mother’s lips,” Davis said as she observed a photo of him. “It’s so funny, I can see her in him.”
Check out the clip of Angela Y. Davis finding out her ancestral history and the full episode here.