Michael K Williams discovers his African Ancestry

Here’s how this went down. We were walking down the street in Brooklyn one day and turned around to see none other than Michael K. Williams walking his dogs right behind us. Omar. Omar F’ing Little. Hands down the best character on the best show ever. Ever. (Forever ever.) This is what we blurted out: “I love you.” We don’t kid. (We wish we did.)

It was a no-brainer that he should be the next subject of our “The Roots Of…” series in which we trace back people’s ancestry to the bright continent using a DNA test that can locate not only a country of origin but also an ancestral tribe. For Michael, it was serendipity. His brother-from-another-mother Isaiah Washington had already been in his ear to get the test done for a long time.

The results, revealed below as Michael K. Williams’ African ancestry is revealed, will give you goosebumps. Regarding his ancestors who survived the middle passage and slavery, he asks: “what is flowing in my veins that survived all that horror?” He finds a partial answer, at least, in one of Nas‘ most striking lines: “Heart of a king, blood of a slave.” For the rest, you’ll have to watch.

If you haven’t yet seen our first episodes in “The Roots Of…” series, check here to watch The Roots‘ African ancestry revealed to ?uesto and Black Thought, here to check out Q-Tip‘s real tribe, and here to see Flying Lotus trace his own soul makossa to the motherland. You too can discover the country and even tribe where it all began: to get your own DNA test, check out our partners over at African Ancestry.

Videographers: Emmai Alaquiva, Rory Webb, Christina Choe, Doug Zajaczkowski
Editor: Sam Bathrick
Interviewer: Raquel Cepeda


13 Replies to "The Roots Of… Michael K. Williams Discovers His African Ancestry"
Shan says:
July 24, 2013 at 10:36 am

I’m a Williams from the Bahamas would luv to know who his mother’s people are and which island they originated.

Adam says:
July 24, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Amazing, amazing series. So sick.

MadBrooke says:
July 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Love it

nicki763 says:
July 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I’m crying too I feel you brother

nicki763 says:
July 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Its more than he knew before. He knows the start now if he would like he can try to fill in the middle

Donna Lee says:
August 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Michael Williams’ mother’s ancestry originated in the island of Nassau, Bahamas. She and my mother, were best life-long friends. My mother’s name was Olga Viola Lee (nee Smith), my maternal grandmother’s name was Elizabeth Mary Smith (nee Hope), my maternal great-grandmother’s name was Savaletta Hope (nee McPherson) and my great-great-maternal grandmother’s name was Justina McPherson.

As a line in my favorite film of all time, “Daughters of the Dust,” written and directed by, Julie Dash, spoken by her “Nana” character says, “The ancestors, they watch us; they keep us!”

Surviving the horror, indeed! You all (!) know what I’m talkin’ about!

    Donna Lee says:
    September 9, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    I had reason to refer back to this webpage recently and I noticed that I forgot to add that Michael’s father was known as Booker Williams, although I don’t know if Booker is Michael’s father’s first name from birth and his brother’s name is Paul Carey. Michael’s father was from somewhere in the south of the U.S. although I’m not sure where.

Kristy Gomez says:
September 12, 2013 at 11:23 am

This series is beautiful and I am so happy OKP has done it – and done it SO well. I’ve been obsessed with the PBS series Finding Your Roots for a while, drawn to the stories of African American’s featured on the show. Like Ahmir said, it’s a privilege as an African American to know our heritage, so if I couldn’t learn about my own lineage, seeing others find their’s was truly beautiful. I’ve watched all four episodes and this one was so incredibly moving, well edited, and well done. We don’t see enough Black men encouraging each other to embrace emotion, embrace happiness, and be okay with showing it to the world.

Kudos to everyone involved in this. Ya’ll have my husband and I crying tears of joy this morning. xo

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  • Whodat says:
    February 4, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    All our people should do this, but for real, I wish they could also go to some of the most destructive people within pop culture and let them know where they come from: Suge Knight, Bobbi Kristina, maybe even Daylyt

    International1 says:
    February 9, 2015 at 6:32 am

    I am happy for the brother, but he should also know this test reveals only one of his ancestors, not all. In truth, African Americans are a PAN AFRICAN people representing a melting pot of different African groups…so you got more than just the Mandé Sierra Leone behind you, but the whole continent in your blood stream. One love from Nigeria.

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  • Hass Root says:
    August 4, 2015 at 1:33 am

    With all due respect, even dough your background is African, it is impossible to know your ancestry in this so called dna without your own family or related being present. Keep your head up and celebrate the African in your life. Powet to my people.

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