Inside a provocative exhibit about omas Je erson and slavery, Bishop T.D. Jakes was reminded of his own enslaved ancestors. Jakes, who has visited Africa many times, proudly talked about his Nigerian roots. He said Dr. Henry Louis Gates, a professor of African and African American research at Harvard University, arranged a DNA test which con rmed that Jakes’ ancestors were from Nigeria.
“Going back there recently, I went into an area that was predominantly Ibo and it was kind of emotional to me,” Jakes said. “Because they made presentations to me – my house is decorated with a lot of African art – and they were telling me this is what your language sounds like.”
Jakes said he has a vivid recollection of his great-grandmother who was once enslaved. He was just 10 years old but said he remem- bers listening to his great-grandmother talk about slavery and his family’s history
“And I think of how so many people look at Africa and they talk about poverty but when I looked at it I thought they are so rich in ways that we are poor.” Jakes said. “ ey know who they are, they know whose they are, they know where they came from, they proudly understand their languages, and in that way we are very poor and so there needs to be a greater exchange between us as people because for me it was like regaining a part of myself that was lost.”
Jakes is the honorary co-chair of a new traveling exhibit, “Slavery at Je erson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty,” which ran from Sept. 22 to Dec. 31 at Dallas’ African American Museum.