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A Search for Ancestry: Journey Yields Glimpse of Missing Past
Leonard Pitts
The Miami Herald
November 7 and November 14, 2004

Table of Contents:

Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. used DNA tests to trace his heritage. Photographer Sarah J. Glover accompanied Pitts on his journey.
In August 2003, Herald columnist Leonard Pitts wrote a moving essay about using the African Ancestry DNA-testing service to determine his ancestors' origins. His mother, he found, was from the Songhay people in Niger. His father, from the Mende of Sierra Leone.

"Knowing that gave me a gladness that's hard to articulate. Like finding the jigsaw's missing piece. I felt a quiet joy. It made me want to know more. Made me want to go there," Pitts wrote.

Last July, the Pulitzer Prize winner did so. Joining him was Sarah J. Glover, photographer from The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Herald's sister newspaper, who was already in Africa thanks to winning the National Association of Black Journalists Ethel Payne Fellowship.

This is their story.

Part I: Journey Yields Glimpse of Missing Past Part II: The Missing Past: Homeland sojourn reveals so little, yet so much
  • Mende Village
  • War Talk
  • Poorest Nation
  • Foul Smell, Too
  • American Marvels
  • The Question
  • Forgiveness
  • Interventions
  • In A Word
  • Balancing Act
  • At Amputee Camp, Bitterness and Questions