Sunny Hostin, a host on "The View," was stunned to learn about her ancestors' past on "Finding Your Roots." The PBS series uncovers the family histories of well-known individuals using historical documents and DNA analysis. In an episode aired on February 6, it was revealed that Hostin's maternal lineage was involved in the slave trade during colonial Spain's era.
Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of the show, disclosed to Hostin that her third great-grandfather "owned at least one human being." This news was particularly shocking to Hostin, who has a Puerto Rican mother and a Black father. She had never imagined her family's origins could be traced back to Spain, nor that they were slaveholders.
Responding to the revelations, Hostin expressed her astonishment: "Wow, I’m a little bit in shock. I just always thought of myself as half Puerto Rican. I didn’t think my family was originally from Spain and slaveholders." She found a silver lining in the shared Spanish heritage with her husband Manny, noting it as an interesting connection for their children.
Hostin's discovery led her to reflect on the complexities of her identity and family history. She was surprised and somewhat disappointed to learn about her family's involvement in slavery. "I’m surprised that they were enslavers, actually. That’s disappointing," she admitted.
Despite the initial shock, Hostin also recognized the importance of acknowledging all parts of her ancestry, including the troubling aspects. She joked with Gates about the origins of her white ancestry, showing a light-hearted approach to the heavy subject.
Her mother's strong identification with Puerto Rican heritage and activism in social justice shaped Hostin's own views. Hostin shared how her mother's experiences and actions influenced her deeply, emphasizing the impact of these familial ties on her personal beliefs.
The episode also brought Hostin some heartwarming news. Gates presented her with her third great-grandfather's voter registration card from Georgia, dated 1867. This ancestor, likely born into slavery in 1835, had registered to vote shortly after the Civil War. Hostin was visibly moved by this discovery, finding it "amazing" and a testament to her ancestor's resilience and strength.
In this blend of shock and pride, Hostin's journey on "Finding Your Roots" offered her a deeper understanding of her family's complex history, bridging the gap between her past and her identity today.