summer of 1799. He was the great-grandson of an Ethiopian prince named Ibrahim Gannibal, who had relocated to Russia and become a general in the army of Peter the Great [source: PBS].

Puskin became a member of a revolutionary group dedicated to social reform and wrote poems that reflected his views. His work, which included “Freedom” and “The Village,” came under scrutiny by Russian authorities and led to his exile in 1820 to his mother’s estate [source: Shaw].

Six years later, he was pardoned by Czar Nicholas I and free to travel; he married in 1831 and later challenged one of his wife’s admirers to a duel in 1837. He died two days later from injuries he sustained in the battle. Pushkin’s most famous works include the poem “The Bronze Horseman,” the verse novel “Eugene Onegin” and the play “Boris Gudunov” [source: Shaw]. He also left behind an unfinished novel about his Ethiopian great-grandfather.

Michael Fosberg performing his one-man play “Incognito.”

Pete Zivkov/Flckr

If you’re an action-movie fan, odds are you’ll recognize Michael Fosberg for the roles he landed in “Hard to Kill” and “The Presidio.” Fosberg, who played white characters in these movies, didn’t really have to stretch for the roles. After all, he’d grown up white in an upper-class family; his mother was a brunette and his father was a fair-skinned blonde.

When Fosberg was 32, however, his parents divorced and spilled a family secret that would change the course of his life. The man Fosberg had always known as his father was actually his stepfather. His biological father and his mother had only been briefly married after his unexpected conception, and Fosberg set out to find the man. When he did, he was stunned to discover his father was black.

The emotional reunion changed Fosberg’s perception, not only about himself, but the world around him. It’s a journey he chronicled in a memoir, “Incognito: An American Odyssey of Race and Self-Discovery.” Fosberg discovered that the African-American side of his family included a grandfather who was chairman of the science and engineering department at Norfolk State University, Va., and a great-grandfather who was a star pitcher for the Negro Leagues [source: Ihejirika].

Since 2000, he’s toured the nation performing a one-man play based on his life story. “It’s important to embrace all of who you are,” Fosberg said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times

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