King Russell! Seahawks’ Wilson learns ancestry includes slaves – and at least one king
SEATTLE – If you think Russell Wilson is the king, you’re not too far off.
Wilson appeared in a forum in Richmond, Va., on Saturday night with the host of PBS’ “Finding Your Roots.”
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that, in front of a crowd of 4,500, historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. told Wilson that his descendants go back to Saint Arnulf, the bishop of Metz who was born in 582, and that that line includes at least one English king.
Also according to the newspaper:
Charity Southgate, Wilson’s paternal great-great-great-great-grandmother, was a slave — but had been born to a white woman and was entitled to freedom, according to the law of the time.
In 1824, when she was 18, Southgate sued for her freedom. She secured a ruling that she was to be set free — but not until 10 years later.
While she was waiting for her freedom, Southgate married a slave and had five children with him. When the 10 years expired, her owner still refused to free her.
She continued her court fight — for herself and her children — and in 1847, 23 years after she first sued, a judge ruled that she and her children were all free. She had already saved money and purchased her husband’s freedom, so her entire family was no longer enslaved.
Gates also showed Wilson a document that listed his slave ancestors as property worth $1,000.
“Some of our ancestors may have grown up as slaves,” Wilson said. “Some may have been slave owners. … We forget we’re all human.”