African Ancestry co-founder reflects on 20 years of helping people trace their lineages

African Ancestry is celebrating 20 years of connecting people with their roots. African Ancestry Co-Founder Dr. Gina Paige returned to “Closer Look” to discuss the huge milestone and what’s next. (Photo courtesy of African Ancestry)

For 20 years, African Ancestry has been helping people trace their roots back to Africa.

The organization, founded by Dr. Gina Paige and Dr. Rick Kittles, has helped more than 1 million people reconnect with the roots of their family tree — by tracing their African maternal and paternal lineages.

“The type of testing that we do looks at one branch of your family tree to determine where your family line was prior to the slave trade,” said Dr. Paige on Thursday’s edition of WABE’s “Closer Look.”

During the conversation, Dr. Paige talked with show host Rose Scott about the challenges and success of operating African Ancestry and the science behind DNA testing.

“We all have DNA that we have inherited from our mother that never mixes over generations,” said Paige. “So, you have this little part of your DNA called mitochondrial DNA that’s the exact same as five, six, 10, 12 grandmothers ago. When we find someone else in the world with your same mitochondrial DNA signature, you have to share ancestry with that person.”

During the conversation, Scott reflected on the moment she traced her DNA signature. Dr. Paige also talked about how she hopes African Ancestry continues to grow.

“I want the next 20 years for African Ancestry to be known as years where we helped Black people learn more about themselves through their DNA,” explained Dr. Paige.

“So we currently teach you about your ancestry, but we can help you with your health. We can help you with other aspects of your ancestry.”