Those of you who’ve seen the award winning T-V miniseries Roots will recall it follows the life and the descendants of Kunte Kinte. Adapted from the groundbreaking Alex Haley novel it begins with Kinte’s birth in a small village in Gambia, Africa in 1750. The story develops as the 15-year old Kinte is ordained a Mandinka warrior. Shortly after, while searching for wood near his village to make a drum for his brother, he is captured by slave traders. Ruthlessly snatched from his family and home, never to see either again, Kinte is put on a slave ship and brought to America. After his arrival at Annapolis, Maryland his name is changed by his slave owner to Toby. The proud Kunte resists the change and is beaten until he submits to his slave name, but never forgets.
During Kunte’s/Toby’s lifetime and the generations that follow, we are told an amazing story of family, hardship, suffering, struggle for identity, and ultimate triumphs. The story spans nearly 120 years of family history and ends with the memorable character Chicken George, his son Tom Harvey and granddaughter Cynthia.
When the series was originally aired, over eight consecutive nights in January 1977, it reached an audience of 140-million people. On its final night 71% of all television viewers were watching Roots. It would win nine Emmy Awards as well as a Golden Globe. The series revived interest in genealogical history among both blacks and whites. Roots ends with the narrative voice of Alex Haley who, with a montage of family photos, connects Tom Harvey’s daughter Cynthia, the great-great-granddaughter of Kunta Kinte, to Haley himself. Continue reading