First aired in January 1977, Roots, a dramatic factional TV miniseries captured the minds and hearts of the nearly 80 million people who watched (Bird 94). The series was based on the book Roots by Alex Haley; both depict his family tree going back eight generations (on his mother’s side) when his family was still in Africa. The story begins with Kunta Kinte begin a young man in the Juffree village, Gambia, West Africa who was taken from his village to become cargo on the Lord Ligonier; a ship that landed in Maryland in c.1767. (Clare 1). He was then sold into slavery in Virginia where he was given the name “Toby”. At the slave trade the auctioneer was quoted saying, “This is a choice young nigger! Do I hear seven fifty” (Haley 198). After years at the plantation he married Bell, a house slave, who gave birth to their only child, a daughter named Kizzy. Kunte Kinte named her that because in his native tongue it means “stay put”. Kizzy was sold at a young age to Tom Moore; another slave owner who raped her the first night she starting living there. Kizzy then became pregnant with a son, Chicken George. Chicken George, whose real name was George, gained the title “Chicken” because he had established a reputation as a skilled cock-fighter. Eventually he was sold to an Englishman after Tom Moore lost a bet. He comes back to the plantation where he was raised nearly twenty years later a free man. He then moves his family and his sons’ families to Tennessee. This is where the first series of Roots ended.
The movie Roots did what many movies similar movies (Like X) fail to do, stuck to the book. Almost of the events seen in the movie can be verified by the book. This was the series’ greatest asset, and greatest disservice. Alex Haley was sued several times for plagiarism by blsser renowned black historians such as Harold Courlander and Margaret Walker (Page 1)(Clare 2). There were many “facts” in his book that didn’t uphold with actually events in history; many of...
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