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Famous Bahamian descendant exposes Exuma to millions
By Clarence Rolle
Sep 3, 2008 - 10:25:53 AM

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Weatherman Al Roker recently took NBC network viewers on an exploration of Bahamian plantation history as he retraced his Bahamian heritage to Exuma on NBC’s Today Show.

As part of the Today Show’s Discover Your Roots series, Mr. Roker traveled to Liverpool, United Kingdom to research his family history. The television segment included significant excerpts of video from his 1999 trip to Exuma for his Travels with Al Roker, which was broadcast on the Food Network.

The Today Show segment aired August 29, the day of the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s famous I Have a Dream speech and the day that Barak Obama accepted a nomination that made him the United States’ first major party African American nominee for president.

Mr. Roker was able to use interviews and historical documents to learn the origin of his name. It is most probable that his ancestors adopted the name of Exuma landowner, Thomas Roker – a slave owner for whom Roker’s Point, Exuma is named, Bahamian historians told the famous weatherman.

Records of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in George Town gave him specifics on his lineage. St. Andrew’s records took Mr. Roker back to information on his great great grandfather, Robert Roker, and his great grandfather, David Roker.

“David and Francis had Albert Hubert, my father’s father,” Mr. Roker said while looking through official parish records. “And then Remelda, that’s my grandmother. Albert and Remelda got married and then had my dad. It’s amazing to see it here. It kind of gives you a chill.”

Mr. Roker spoke with many Bahamian sources to complete his report. His interviews included speaking with Director of Archives Dr. Gail Saunders and Exuma businessman Kermit Rolle.

An estimated 5.6 million viewers saw the segment. If the segment, which lasted more than 10 minutes, had been purchased as an advertising spot, it would have cost the Bahamas $256,000, advertising experts said.

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