On PBS’ Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr., we learned that more than one member of the White House adviser’s family tree played notable roles in our nation’s history.If you missed Tuesday night’s installment of PBS’ Finding Your Roots—hosted by The Root’s editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr.—it’s worth checking your local listings for a replay. This latest episode focused on “three enslaved families with three unique histories,” including the family histories of Yale-educated actress Angela Bassett, of Malcolm X andWhat’s Love Got to Do With It fame, and musician Nas, whose 1994 Illmatic is universally regarded as a cornerstone of the hip-hop canon.
But the show’s other fascinating portrayal was of the family history of senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, a longtime friend of Barack Obama who worked to help him become the nation’s first black president, and whose story includes family members who made significant contributions to American history in their own right.
Although she’s mostly a player behind the scenes, anyone following national politics knows that she’s had a role in many of the most significant political debates in recent years. But this journey through her family’s story showed a different side of Jarrett than we normally get to see.
And today she spoke briefly with The Root about what her family’s legacy means to her.
Jarrett already knew the story of her great-grandfather Robert Robinson Taylor, who was born in North Carolina in 1868 and was the first black graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was the first-known credentialed African-American architect and designed most of the original Tuskegee University campus—a project commissioned by Booker T. Washington.
Source: The Root