Jul 28, 2023

Study Sheds Light on Black Americans’ Ancestral Links

From an article by Russell Contreras published in the Axios web site:

Black Americans born in the early 1960s typically have more than 300 African and 50 European ancestors dating back to when captive Africans arrived in North America in 1619, according to a new study using computational analysis of genetic data.

Why it matters: Many Black Americans who are descended from enslaved Africans have lacked ancestral information spanning several centuries. In a broad sense, the new research by USC and Stanford University could help shed light on their lineage.

The study does not, however, specifically identify those whose genetic data were used, or their ancestors.

Zoom in: The study, recently published in Genetics, estimates that a random Black American born between 1960 and 1965 is descended from, on average, 314 African and 51 European ancestors dating to 1619. 

Computational analysis of publicly available genetic data of thousands of Black Americansfound that the European ancestors appear in family trees during the time of enslavement, a period marked by violence and sexual abuse of enslaved men and women.

Many of the African ancestors were people who survived the horrific Middle Passage of enslaved Africans over more than two centuries, researchers said. 

The USC and Stanford researchers used aggregated data from various studies and created a 14-generation model divided into three time periods: 1619 to 1808; 1808 to 1865 and 1865 to 1965.

They used the average percentage of African American and European genetic data for people born from 1960 to 1965.

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