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OHMYGOSSIP

Shirley Ballas was moved to tears as she discovered her mixed-race ancestors were sold into slavery

OHMYGOSSIP — Shirley Ballas was moved to tears as she discovered her mixed-race ancestors were sold into slavery.
The ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ judge – who grew up in Merseyside – has traced her bloodline back on BBC One show ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, and learned about how they were taken from Madagascar.
She told The Sun newspaper: “It was heart-breaking, it was an emotional journey. There were a lot of tears.
“I’m quite a softie really. I go back and I try to imagine other people’s lives. It was nothing like how I set out on the journey.”
Although hoping to find a dance connection in her family’s history, she was shocked when she was told of how her great-great-great-great grandmother Caroline Otto arrived in South Africa in the 19th century, and was sold as a slave at a very young age.
She added: “It was extremely emotional because the child was very young.
“She also didn’t know the names of her parents. That meant she had been sold into slavery at a very young age.
“I have a son so it was really heartbreaking to imagine this child having to leave her family and be sold into the slave trade.”
Shirley opened up about her own difficulties trying to make it as a dancer – including splitting from her husband Sammy Stopford after five years of marriage to move to Texas and chase her dreams.
However, she admitted learning about her ancestors’ battles meant it really hit home how much harder things have been for other members of her family.
She explained: “I’m in a male-dominated industry in the ballroom world and it’s difficult for any woman, particularly a single woman.
“So I can only possibly sit there and imagine how my ancestors felt. It is truly heart-breaking.”
Shirley’s episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ airs on July 30 at 9pm on BBC One.

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