*With COVID-19 dominating our current normal, a family vacation away from home may be the last thing on your bucket list.
Yet Faruq Tauheed has guided families on a weekly journey to self-discovery as the host of “Roots Less Traveled,” a new show that uses the past as a path to the present for families. For Tauheed, the NBC series lined up with his plans for the future, with a focus on family.
“It’s was one of those things where I was at that moment where I was trying to look for my purpose and figure out what my purpose is and one day, I woke up with the word. Well, actually three words and it was ‘for the family’,” the “BattleBots” ring announcer told EURweb about his reasons for being a part of “Roots Less Traveled.” “I want to be a part of a project that brings families together, that’s really about families and that’s really positive. And ‘Roots Less Traveled’ has all three of those boxes checked it’s about families, it’s positive; it’s fun, adventurous. I get to travel. And it’s just truly an amazing show and I had an amazing time working on it.”
The newest entry to NBC’s three-hour Saturday morning “The More You Know” programming block, “Roots Less Traveled” follows a new pair of multigenerational family members who bond on a joint quest to learn more about their family history. The series, which has partnered with Ancestry®, features Tauheed as a “guide” to the family members as they go on an adventure to solve mysteries in their family tree, while discovering the truth behind stories passed down for generations and learn of the inspiring lives of their ancestors.
In the latest episode of “Roots Less Traveled,” Tauheed will join Sharee Burress and her son DeVonn who travel to Tennessee to uncover the revealing story of Sharee’s great, great, great grandfather Larkin Ford who fought for and obtained his freedom before the Civil War and changed the course of Tennessee history.
“I got chills three different times in thinking about my experience with them,” Tauheed recalled about Sharee and DeVonn’s emotional journey. “Their episode hit a little closer to home for me, specifically. Just my background, being African American, just having a history of being black in this country. They’re also African American and their journey teaches them and tells them and myself that things weren’t always what we were taught in school.
“She’s a teacher and she’s been teaching for years. And to now learn new stuff, for her, it was very overwhelming and very emotional because it was her family that kind of went against what history tells us a lot of times,” he continued. “Their family goes back to the south pre-civil ware and their story is not what anybody would imagine. I really encourage your listeners to check out this episode. This episode right here is really going to be amazing. It’s really going to be a personal journey.”
The arrival of “Roots Less Travel” comes as the world comes to terms with a new way of living under the shadow of COVID-19. Citing the John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, CNN reports that more than 2.1 million people have been infected with COVID-19, with more than 2,240,000 novel coronavirus cases worldwide. In the United States, the number of coronavirus cases now total 699,706, with 36,773 deaths (as of 04-10-20).
For many, the situation places families in a position where they are together, for better or worse, for an extended time and looking for suitable programming for all. Rather than a challenge, Tauheed sees “Roots Less Traveled” as a great way to trigger discussion among family members about past descendants, their lives and what they’ve done, in relation to how similar or different those descendants are from their modern-day relatives.
“It’s funny, now you talk about the timing of it in the time we’re in now. Who would’ve thought that when the show aired, that we would’ve been in this situation. When we were done filming in December, no way in the world that we would think that people would have the opportunity to have a lot of time on their hands, many of us. And it is. You really get to sit around with the family and watch the show. With a lot of things going on, people are trying to find things to do”, said Tauheed. “This is a perfect way to find some things to do. Sit down with the family, have some conversations, get on some videoconferences and talk with them, some of your older family relatives and older family members and get their stories.
“And really talk to your family members and really take the time to connect. Because the stories that are gonna come out of it, is really gonna be so fruitful just to everything that you got going on in your own life,” he added. “So taking that time to do that, I hope the show really inspires people to take the time we have now to really press into their family history, really dig deep. We got plenty of hours with a lot of people practicing staying at home during this COVID-19 pandemic. Just go ahead and really dive into your family tree. It will definitely be rewarding. I can promise you that.”
For anyone wondering about “BattleBots,” and whether the popular robot-fighting show will return, don’t worry.
“BattleBots,” when all this COVID-19 stuff is over with, we’ll be back,” Tauheed assured. “We’re not canceled yet. We’re just postponed until we get back up and running and we get our 10th season going for that on Discovery.”
“Roots Less Traveled” airs Saturday mornings on NBC’s “The More You Know” programming block.
**Story by Chris Richburg ([email protected]), a Southern California based freelance writer.