Attending the Richmond Forum for a special appearance with Henry Louise Gates Jr. for the PBS television show “Finding Your Roots,” Russell Wilson discovered he is the descendant of a freed slave and an English king.
Per Randy Hallman of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
“Wilson and the sold-out Forum crowd of 4,500 learned of a heritage including slaves, free blacks and whites — reaching all the way back to Saint Arnulf, the bishop of Metz, born in 582. The strands of ancestry included at least one English king.”
The Super Bowl winning quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks quarterback wasn’t surprised to learn of his incredible heritage, or at least that’s how he played it off.
“I knew it,” Wilson said, standing and pumping his fist.
The most remarkable aspect of Gates Jr.’s historical journey into Wilson’s past emerged when he discovered his paternal great-great-great-great-grandmother was a slave who had been born to a white woman and was entitled to freedom.
Her name was Charity Southgate, and after a 23-year odyssey that included a protracted court battle, she and all her children were awarded the freedom they deserved.
Never one to hide his emotions, these revelations, along with others, greatly moved Wilson.
“Throughout the evening, he was shaking as he read documents Gates had found — one listing two of Wilson’s slave ancestors as property, on an account with livestock, price $1,000.”
It was a treasured haul of history to take in all at once, and one can imagine Wilson will remember his experience on stage for the rest of his life.