The TV mini-series Roots by Alex Haley first aired January 23, 1977, 40+ years ago and the book was published in 1976. When the mini-series first came out I was in the 8th grade so I did not get a chance to watch it completely, I did see bits and pieces before bed.
I love anything historical and when I was scrolling through Amazon Prime a few weeks back I noticed the mini-series could still be rented. I also noticed it was available for my kindle, so naturally, I decided to read the book first. I will rent the mini-series next to see how well they reproduced the story.
If you have not read this book I would strongly recommend you do. It is one of the best books I have ever read and tells the most amazing story. Alex Haley did such a good job, I felt like I was actually watching the lives of these people unfold, I could see their faces and picture their surroundings, their lives and what it must have been like to live through this very dark and sad place in our history.
Anytime you take a history course in high school or college this period is always covered. The slave trade and how people were captured and brought to America. It is very disturbing and very sad that a whole group of people was thought of as nothing more than property. When you learn about it and study it in school it is still a bit abstract, you get the magnitude of this time period, by any standards is an enormous crime to humanity, but when you read this book it shows you so much more. You can now relate actual events to real people with names and faces, their story and the impact is so strong it kind of forces you to think, step back and realize what this all was, The very worst of mankind. I’m not sure there is ever a way to ever right this wrong.
When you read a history book that details how boats sail into Africa, captures people, ships them across the ocean chained up below deck for months, to a new land with no freedom, beaten, tortured, and abused. Then you read Roots and it puts an actual time, place, a person with a name and how his life was in Africa you get a whole new perspective.
If you know nothing about the story or very little, it focuses on a core group of people; Kunta Kinte, his daughter Kizzy, her son George (Chicken George) and his family. The story takes place starting in the mid-1750 before America was an actual country. Then through the civil war up to the birth of Alex Haley.
At the heart or root if you will, running through the whole book is the ability starting with Kunta Kinte to keep in his family is ancestral history by passing on what he was raised with before he was captured. Some of his native words, traditions, and customs, that with each generation continued. Right up to and including the author. In his mind, Kunta Kinte was always free. That allowed Alex Haley, to tie all the pieces together up to the day he stepped foot in the very village is great, great, great, great grandfather Kunta Kinte was born and captured.
After reading the book it felt like you could touch all these people, understand what they were living through but never broken. The most horrific period in our history, possibly the world a family found a way to leave little crumbs of hints through time that brought the family back home through Mr. Haley, back to the exact village where it started.