News Local/State

‘Journey To My Mother’s Land’ Visits U Of I Prof’s Ancestral Homeland In Africa

Janice Collins in "Journey To My Mother's Land"

Janice Collins (center) in "Journey To My Mother's Land" Courtesy Janice Collins

A documentary series now in production follows a University of Illinos professor as she travels to the West Africa to find the home of her ancestors. Janice Collins says the inspiration for "Journey To My Mother's Land" comes from Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and his TV show "Finding Your Roots."

Gates' program aired on PBS. In its three seasons to date, "Finding Your Roots" used techniques of genealogy and genetics to explore the family trees of well-known Americans.

After that series first aired, Gates wrote in the Washington Post that he was surprised that African-Americans who learned about their connection to Africa weren’t more emotionally moved.

Reading that article inspired Collins to develop a project of her own.  The journalism professor on the U of I Urbana campus is working on a documentary series titled “Journey to My Mother’s Land,” which traces Collins’ own roots to Sierra Leone in West Africa.

Highlights from the series are to be shown at 7 PM on Monday, March 27, at the Art Theater Co-Op in downtown Champaign.

Illinois Public Media’s Brian Moline spoke with Collins about “Journey To My Mother’s Land”, starting with her reaction to reading that article by Gates.