Spike Lee

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Duration: 44 minutes

Internationally acclaimed director, producer and actor Spike Lee has built his career on chronicling the African-American experience in his films. But for all of his knowledge about African American history, he knew very little about his own family history. After the death of this mother, Spike was raised by his maternal grandmother Zimmie Jackson - and it's her ancestry he's curious about.

Determined to find out more about his family's slave origins, Spike set out with one clear question in mind - 'who owned my family?'. His first stop is Atlanta Georgia where Zimmie lived for most of her life.

In Atlanta he visits Spelman College, America's oldest black college for women, which his grandmother Zimmie attended in the 1920s. From here he heads to the archives where he traces back through the generations uncovering the names of his three times great grandparents. This discovery sets him off on a journey which takes him back through slavery, the American Civil War and emancipation.

Spike's journey culminates in Texas, when he comes face-to-face with a descendant of the man who had enslaved his ancestors.

  • Photo: Spike Lee

    Photo: Spike Lee

    (Photograph courtesy of Getty Images.)

Credits

Participant
Spike Lee
Participant
Spike Lee
Director
Christopher Bruce
Director
Christopher Bruce
Executive Producer
Lucy Carter
Executive Producer
Lucy Carter

Broadcasts

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